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Bands as projects, as art installations. That’s Carla Bozulich for you. Here comes a list: The Neon Veins, Invisible Chains, Ethyl Meatplow, The Geraldine Fibbers, Scarnella, and now Evangelista. She’s fronted them all, and that doesn’t even account for her film soundtracks and other sidelines. She’s a creative machine.
But if you’ve heard of her, your music taste is slightly off-the-wall. Carla doesn’t ‘do’ easy. She doesn’t pander to an audience. She makes them work. So this latest album, Hello, Voyager, is occasionally a vicious head-fuck, especially towards the end when it all smashes apart, and someone called ‘Gamble’ gets a credit on the sleeve for “hitting things”. On the final, title track, Carla’s narration crescendos into angry shouts as guitars scream in the background and drums clatter haphazardly. Hello voyager, indeed. Here’s hoping you have your wits about you.
While opener ‘Winds Of St Anne’ prepares you for the ride ahead, sprawling ever outwards, there are definitely more accessible moments here; moments for us weaker mortals to cling to. ‘Smooth Jazz’ is aggressive and barbed, like a twisted Kills track performed by Charlottefield. Then there’s ‘Lucky Lucky Luck’, which has a genuine pop melody, and makes Carla sound like a severely messed up KT Tunstall. You can’t imagine Tunstall singing the line: “When I was a baby I was sweet as can be / I had a good heart but I had to kill it.”
This is a fascinating record that enjoys toying with musical boundaries and unnerving the listener. It isn’t the kind of album you can listen to on repeat, and you should keep it away from your more sensitive friends. It’s damn bleak. But as an artistic endeavour, it’s a resounding success.