It’s the shooting of the horse in the one-horse town. It’s the rain leaking through the tin roof of the only saloon for miles around. The old mine shaft’s swallowing up the ground and [a]Nick Cave[/a]’s been carrying off the sheep again. Be warned, traveller, from here on in, it’s dust, bourbon and epic clichi all the way to the next homestead.
And what magnificently epic clichi it is. If the heroic likes of Mogwai and Godspeed! have cranked up expectations for instrumental music in recent months – it’s no longer enough to be ‘cinematic’, you have to bring about the fall of Western civilisation as well – Melbourne’s [a]Hungry Ghosts[/a] are relics of a gentler time. Three young men who are produced by Roland S Howard and come on like a dry-cleaned Dirty Three, it’s clear what their remit is, and it largely involves just-add-violin nostalgia for times and places they’ve never been.
So this debut album is a round trip through bleakness and euphoria, and while the lovely tin-mug-and-campfire rattle of ‘Nowness’ and ‘Relief’ are pure folk lament, they also collect up klezmer, flamenco and mariachi trumpet to tuck under their tightened belts before heading home. Where Warren Ellis possibly awaits them with an axe.
Yes, traffic lights creak above empty roads, and yes, a dust storm gathers on the horizon. But maybe with music this eloquent, putting words in its mouth is the last thing you should do.