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Big Black Delta

Big Black Delta

Jonathan Bates is quickly becoming a musician who can't be ignored. Working under the moniker Big Black Delta, Bates has created some incessantly (and confusingly) catchy releases whose quality demands attention. What's more, his latest release, 2013's eponymous Big Black Delta, is his best offering yet.

The album is still confusing for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it's being billed as Big Black Delta's debut album--which is what I thought I was reviewing two years ago with BBDLP1. Even with the semantic confusion aside, the albums themselves are strikingly similar; all but one of the tracks on BBDLP1 appear on this album, the tracks are ordered similarly, even the cover art itself is exactly the same (save a few new track names popping up). With that understanding, a lot of what I said about BBDLP1 carries over to this album: the songs are incredibly fun and disorienting bursts of semi-electronica cacophony that somehow manage to resolve into common time, mixing a ufology fetish with truly alien sensibilities and understandings of pop norms, all resulting in an undeniably sexy package. Oh, and "IFUCKINGLOVEYOU" is still one of the best songs, period.

Okay, so what's new? Well, to name a few things, the unearthly gospel track "Roost" was cut out entirely, a damn shame given how moving of a closer it was; the track "Put the Gun on the Floor" gets a well-needed mix update, augmenting the rhythm and bass to the furious driving forces they should have always been; a few minor cosmetic changes have been made to the track listing, keeping the general feel and integrity of the original while accommodating some new pieces; and most importantly, we get five brand-new tracks to sink our teeth into (six and a half, if you bought the iTunes version). The track (quite deservedly) getting the most attention is the lead single "Side of the Road", a slick, bouncy, dance piece that, in addition to satisfying all needs related to ass-shaking, is one of the strongest individual songs of Bates' career. The other noteworthy track is "Money Rain Down", a deliriously jazzy, upbeat, and sensuous piece that is stupefying in how blatantly silly it is (and that's saying a lot, given this album).

The other new tracks, while still passable, wind up playing second-fiddle in importance to the original tracks. "x22", while a reasonably cool instrumental thought, exists solely as an intermission and bridge to the home stretch of the album. That's where we find the other selections "Into the Night" and "Love You This Summer", both moderately enjoyable but ultimately unsatisfyingly substanceless offerings, hidden away with the rest of the weakest chaff. Both are indicative of the only thing that has gotten worse between releases--more so than on BBDLP1Big Black Delta really does lose steam towards the end, limping along for a good ten minutes longer than it needs to. (If you bought the iTunes version, it trudges on even longer; you also get to listen to the bonus tracks "Ghostrider" and the Accelra remix of "The Zebrah", both of which are okay, I s'pose.)

If you look past the fact that this is essentially the same album a second time, Big Black Delta is both a fine album from a musical standpoint and an uncomfortably effective aphrodisiac in its own right. Even in comparison to it's predecessor, it comes out several cuts above. If you bought BBDLP1already, it's not worth your time to grab this release, but if you haven't heard Jonathan Bates yet, buy this album and shove it into your ear holes already.

8.5 / 10Sarah
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8.5 / 10

8.5 / 10

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Related news

Records Big Black Delta streaming new single

Posted Feb. 11, 2013, 8:50 p.m.

Jonathan Bates, aka Big Black Delta, is streaming his newest single, "Side of the Road", over at MTV Hive. You can listen to the vaguely trance-like electronica noise-pop track here.

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