Vic Chesnutt and Elf Power - Dark Developments

Orange Twin
(otr031-2: 656605663128)
Release date:




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Vic Chesnutt's collaboration with Elephant 6 originals Elf Power, "Dark Developments" was released in the fall of 2008. As intriguing as this combination may seem for hardcore fans of either act, the final sonic results reveal a daunting sum much greater than even the involvement of such esteemed parts would imply; the Elves' lived-in dexterity as a live band goads Vic's vocal delivery to a menacing new muscularity, imbuing this batch of songs with a sinister vibe not dissmilar to John Cale's black classic "Fear," the harsh, articulate sleaze of Lou Reed's "Street Hassle" or the defeated low key soul-music of Nick Lowe's last few records. And Chesnutt's songwriting retains its trademark literary bent; central songs carry the narrative weight, sturdy construction and lexical mystery of a longlost Raymond Carver story. And as he still woos you with his squelched, beautiful melodies, his sonic turns-in-the road take an even stranger tack with the aid of the psych-pop veterans.

Recorded over the course of a winter by Vic and Derek Almstead in Chesnutt's own attic studio, "Dark Developments" revels in the intimate, home-recorded atomosphere you'd expect from an Athenian union like this. Elf Power's tripped-out pop-smarts provide the contradictory musical notions that never allow the album to sway too far in one bleak direction or another: it's that friction extant between Chesnutt's shadowy worldview and the inventive bounce and bray of the band's joyful chemistry that buoys the album, provides its freshness, and makes for highly rewarding repeated listening. "Dark Developments" stands as a classic addition to the legendary local pantheon, and, most importantly, as a brilliant statement endemic of a natural partership between two separately-evolved and vital musical entities that never feels forced, flashy or false.

1. Mystery
2. Little Fucker
3. And How
4. Teddy Bear
5. We are Mean
6. Stop the Horse
7. Bilocating Dog
8. The Mad Passion of the Stoic
9. Phil the Fiddle

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