Eighteen months ago, Black Rose Burning introduced itself to wider attention with The Year of the Scorpion, a seriously captivating debut album bred in the richest essences of post punk, gothic rock, and alternative pop. It was a striking encounter which left a firm appetite for the band’s sound. Now the NYC project has unveiled its successor and quite simply The Wheel has left its predecessor in its galactic wake.
Black Rose Burning is the solo project of instrumentalist, producer and engineer George Grant which he formed in 2018. As suggested, it was that first album which awoke the senses and imagination to Grant’s inspiriting songwriting and a sound which blends nostalgic essences with a wholly new fertility amid a breath of inviting enterprise. The Wheel more than builds on that first success, its maturity in invention and drama in contagion alone ensuring it is one of the year’s early should explore propositions.
Masterly individual in all aspects, the Black Rose Burning sound has drawn numerous references yet still stands apart from all. For us The Wheel creates a weave of sound which hints at the likes of bands such as Actors, Eyeless In Gaza, Dead Can Dance and Skylephant with a new wave/pop infection recalling artists such as Black and Tears For Fears but truly it isolates from all. From its first breath, the release buried itself in our imagination, its mix of intimacy and cosmic consideration brought with earnest heart and a voice which. as the music, provides a memorable captivation.
With its explorations described as being “inspired by love lost, love won and outer space”, The Wheel opens up with An Anthem For The Strange and immediately demands attention with its resonating electronic beats and a similarly nurtured hum. Swiftly Grants compelling soulful tones are in the midst of the tempting, an angular guitar melody wrapping his reassurance and support of the different.
It is an enthralling start fluidly twisting without notice into the following Black Sun Saturday. Melancholy soaks the release and makes for a radiant yet crepuscular sheen to the immediately engaging song. As suggested earlier, there is a Colin Vearncombe (Black) quality and prowess to Grant’s songwriting and the infectiousness of his emotive deliveries and maybe no more potent than within this majestic offering.
Synth and gothic pop infuse the just as gripping No Love Lost, its movement and rhythmic heartbeat as imposing as its intimate reflection and chilled romance is seductive. As within all tracks, there is a spirit and liveliness which only suggests and looks at the hope and silver lining to things even within the darker contemplation realm of A Little Too Little. Both tracks revel in the manipulative prowess of Grant’s creativity and music, the second especially masterful in its orchestration of eager physical and emotional reaction.
As Antonia evoked that moment of true adoration for another with rapacious catchiness and Gravity Drive looked far beyond for hope bearing light from within dark shadows, The Wheel cemented its hold and enslavement of ears and hungry attention, captivation which the seemingly despondent yet keenly defiant Automatic Man more than reinforced. All three epitomise the craft and cunning in Grant’s creativity, each an organic tempting from what can only be described as a hungry imagination.
A gripping cover of Buzzcocks classic, Ever Fallen In Love? is next to enthral and get the body swinging, Grant softening the edges and re-weaving the canvas of the original for a just as impacting and rousing proposal before casting our favourite song in the addictive shape of Lightspeed. There is a Numan-esque hue to the track which is soon immersed in Grant’s own electrifying sound. Placed deep in the dangers of space yet with a drama easily embraceable to one’s intimate world, the song was manna to ears and instincts; pure electro pop to drool over.
Through its gothic rock tempered soul bearing title track and the brightly lit but darkly nurtured dilemma of Every Single Time, an echo of a certain emotional tempestuousness we have all felt or do feel, The Wheel drew us even deeper into its dynamic world and eventful heart with Solar Angels bringing it to a close with a journey into the wide unknown where maybe answers lie and troubles can be left behind. Again the song is as vibrant as it is emotionally poetic and another beguiling moment to isolate fully from the real world.
2022 has started off in fine style with already a host of richly striking encounters which The Wheel joins, in turn leaving many welcoming it deep in its pensive shade.
The Wheel is out now via PV Recording Company; available @ https://blackroseburning.bandcamp.com/album/the-wheel
Pete RingMaster 25/01/2022
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