Dublin Whelans

There's a wry, perhaps even welcoming, side to their macabre coin...

San Diego’s [a]Black Heart Procession[/a] are not cheery chaps by any stretch of the imagination. We’re reminded of this with every portentous swipe of the snare drum, as another deathly slowcore march unfolds, and Pall A. Jenkins’ musical saw sends out drafty whistles into a perky Dublin night.

But there’s a wry, perhaps even welcoming, side to BHP‘s macabre coin. Maybe it’s because they are so deadpan in their execution, or perhaps it’s simply their wacko uniform: a bizarre ensemble of trucker caps, public schoolboy shirt and ties pinned with flashing bicycle reflectors.

They open with ‘Outside the Glass’, taken from their second album ‘2’, as the piano plonks and plinks like heavy drops of rain, the saw billows with puffs of sad ambience, and Jenkins groans some obliquely personal words. During ‘Stitched to My Heart’ they employ quivering sheet-metal thunder sound effects and the piano and saw venture off on a spooky freeform kickabout.

About five songs in, he pulls out the guitar and the sound begins to find a more traditional shape, imbued with dark American country-blues and nice baroque piano signatures. And just as the prevailing gloom-laden pace begins to erode your enthusiasm, ‘It’s A Crime I Never Told You’ cracks the monotony. The piano takes on an inebriated boogie, and the drums are like a giddy six-year-old running into walls at a funeral.

They even crack a smile or two at the end as they’re duly rewarded with an encore, and an evening of ghostly songs reaches a sedate and satisfactory conclusion.