Two years after releasing their debut album ‘Reverence for Fallen Trees’ (2009) Dutch folk-rockers The Black Atlantic released their new EP ‘Darkling, I Listen' in Europe and are set to release the EP in the US in February, 2013.
Since releasing their debut album in 2009 the band has been on the road almost non stop performing close to a 100 shows a year. In Europe the band has toured with Windmill (UK), Woven Hand (US) and good friends Rue Royale (UK). The band also opened up most shows for Midlake (US) in the Netherlands and shared the stage with The Tallest Man on Earth (SE) in the U.K. In addition to their European shows, the band has toured the US a total of seven times where ‘Darkling, I Listen’ will be released later in 2012 by Beep! Beep! Back up the Truck and Redeye Distribution. Most notably they played the 2010 and 2011 edition of the world’s largest music festival SXSW (US). In addition to SXSW the band performed at Filter’s Culture Collide Festival in Los Angeles, CMJ Music Marathon in New York City and NXNE in Toronto. In March 2011 the band was invited to perform at the prestigious JUE Music + Art Festival in Beijing and Shanghai. The band has toured China twice now.
After all this relentless touring, you can hear the band has become a tightly woven group. The songs that comprise ‘Darkling’ came together during two months of intense writing sessions in the late spring and early summer of 2011. The band fleshed the songs out both at home and on their countless tours. They spent the additional summer and early fall painstakingly tracking and mixing, poring over every little detail and nuance of their recordings. Yet, for all this hard work, ‘Darkling’ sounds organic and full of life, not overworked. Maybe that is because the recording is mostly a home brew produced entirely by the band themselves, with band member Matthijs Herder at the helm. Also brought on board were mix engineering wizard Chris Coady (Beach House, Grizzly Bear), and indie rock lifer of fun Paul Pilot (Duke Special), each of whom contributed a mix of a track.
From the near classical guitar intro of the opening, brooder-song “The Aftermath”, it is clear that ‘Darkling, I Listen’ is a much different sonic animal than the intimate, and mostly acoustic, affair of The Black Atlantic’s debut album ‘Reverence for Fallen Trees.’ Clocking in at 23 minutes and 23 seconds, ‘Darkling’ contains five fully sculpted songs with a wide array of elements and influences, from 70’s psychedelic folk–rock to Phil Spector-esque orchestrated chamber pop and 60’s Motown soul sensibilities. It also takes informed cues from current indie epitomes such as Grizzly Bear, Fleet Foxes, and Bon Iver. The Black Atlantic wears these influences on its sleeve without sounding inauthentic. ‘Darkling I, Listen’ is an immersive listening experience, rustic and pastoral, but without the obvious pretty embellishments. It is impressionistic in its scope, full of wide-open vistas and cavernous sonic swells.
Lyrically the songs paint the psychological tensions and inward journey of a protagonist who, after an argument, finds himself going through an intense emotional/existential rollercoaster ride. Over the course of his sleepless night, his past, his reality, and his future appear in a whole new light of day. Yet somehow it all sounds sunny. Or perhaps, the moon that looms behind clouds is the more suited a metaphor, as it does in the stunning album artwork by visual artists Tracy Maurice and Matt Moroz (known for their artwork for Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade).