Evangelista @ Old Blue Last
Shoreditch Old Blue Last. 27apr08.
There’s a man goin’ round taking names. Carla Bozulich has offered hers, and her bands, as Evangelista. This is not a superficial conceit, but the most appropriate encapsulation of what Carla and her shape-shifting team of art-rock troubadours actually achieve together.
The 2006 album for Constellation Records was titled Evangelista and, as the tour progressed, this became the umbrella term for the project, taking away the focus on one particular personality within the group. However there is no escaping the force of Carla’s voice, and her will, even though she is now surrounded by more musicians; guitarist Jeremy Drake in particular is ‘conducted’ by Carla through the pace of Steal Away like he’s being coaxed down from a sugar rush.
Last year, as reviewed here, the band was just a three piece, now there are six on stage but while there is increased muscle in pieces from this year’s follow-up LP Hello, Voyager, such as Truth Is Dark Like Outer Space these don’t resonate half as much as the desolate, minimal pieces, and this was perhaps better captured with a smaller set-up.
That said, a good half of tonight’s set is taken from that defining 2006 LP, the highlight again being the grinding creak and karmic majesty of Evangelista I, but the closing song of the night, Hello, Voyager itself, runs it close. The secret of Evangelista as a unit, and Carla as the only front-woman who could do justice to the name, is contained in these songs. It’s where the voice comes up from the gut, and as it catches on a glottis whittled by the melancholic openness of country music, unleashes a gospel fury, a haunted scream-und-drone that, atmospherically, teeters close to rapturous spasm.
“When there’s no hope left, there is only one word, one word, one word, that hasn’t dried on your parched lips. Can you say it with me? Can you say it with me? Can you say it with me? The word is love. LOVE!”, with the latter word screamed like its been set alight on its way up from the diaphragm, gives an indication as to the apocalyptic character of this body of work, whilst also revealing the vulnerability at its core.