Angels of Light—The Angels of Light Sing “Other People” (Young God)
This is an uneasy listen. Michael Gira’s voice demands that you pay attention. He sings/speaks these 12 songs/stories right into your ear. I can’t play this record in the background. It feels rude, like walking out of the room in the middle of a conversation. The “other people” of the album’s title are the subjects of each song—“friends, heroes, and various other entities beyond my control,” says Gira in the liner notes. The people include “My Friend Thor” with his disturbing drawings (one of which lurks behind the CD tray) and alarming sex drive, and Jackie, “dissolving a dream of a world that’s too small for the secrets he keeps,” and, most alarmingly, the apocalyptic spectre of Michael Jackson in “Michael’s White Hands” where Gira rails like a preacher: “Michael bring the truth denied/Michael kill that child inside.” Gira’s backing band here is Akron/Family, a recording act in their own right, who provide consistently surprising arrangements using traditional/folk elements such as mandolin, violin, banjo, slide guitar, handclaps, whistling—and barely any drums at all. Paired with Gira’s acoustic guitar strumming, the music almost steals attention away from the vocals, a third party joining a conversation that gets more rewarding each time I put this album on.