Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band have been making a big raw angry tender racket since the 2005 release of their last album, Horses In The Sky. With a focus on live performance and special projects over the past three years, the group proper has logged well over 100 shows in Europe and North America, in between sessions that yielded Thee Silver Mountain Reveries EP and Thee Silver Mountain Elegies Play War Radio tour (featuring four members of Mt. Zion and both members of labelmates Hangedup), as well as collaborations with Carla Bozulich, Vic Chesnutt and Patti Smith in the studio and in concert.
The music of the full band (two guitars, two violins, cello, contrebasse and drums) has grown louder, looser, full of spittle and tears. On 13 Blues For Thirteen Moons, riffs are the backbone more than ever. Anchored by new drummer Eric Craven (ex-Hangedup), the band works its slow build and burn with newfound patience, sinuousness and ferocity. Whether methodically framing walls of sound over the four-on-the-floor punk dirge of "1,000,000 Died To Make This Sound" or exploding in sheets of free noise and melody on "Black Waters Blowed", the band has never rocked harder and has never sounded more determined, desperate and driven. A stuttered blues riff is the foundation for the album's title track, making its appearance after a blisteringly minimalist intro. "Engine Broke Blues" features a gorgeous set of chords that build inexorably from multiple guitar, string and organ lines.
Fans of the group will be familiar with much of this material from the band's live shows over the past couple of years. The recording, undertaken at the newly renovated Hotel2Tango facility in Montreal and co-engineered by Howard Bilerman and Radwan Moumneh (who is also the band's live sound person), ups the ante considerably, with crackling guitar crescendos setting the pace for dive-bombing swirls of strings, while Efrim's voice rasps and wails words of worry, hope and fury throughout. The band's hallmark group vocal passages are positively spine-tingling.
Band: THEE SILVER MT ZION MEMORIAL ORCHESTRA & TRA-LA-LA BAND
Title: 13 Blues For Thirteen Moons
Release Date: 10 March 2008 (Europe), 25 March 2008 (rest of world)
13. 1,000,000 Died To Make This Sound
14. 13 Blues For Thirteen Moons
15. Black Waters Blowed/Engine Broke Blues