Host Skull’s Black Mark
After more than two years of recording, exhibiting art and sound installations, and making video work, Host Skull returns with their second album, Black Mark. Like their debut album, Totally Fatalist, the record plays with pop formats, song structures, and harmony, but this time around, the transcontinental band relies more on “feel”, allowing rhythms to sway and moments to linger. While the first record was recorded as “tape-trading” overdub sessions, core members David Bernabo and Will Dyar spent a week in Sante Fe, NM recording basic tracks. The result was a narrowing of eclecticism and a strengthening of the collaboration.
Through the warm crunch of Rhodes piano, harmonized guitars, and falsetto vocals, the band presents a series of songs that unfold without doubling back. “Hypernarrative” opens the record with a narrative about dislocation while the music filters through arrangements before crescendoing in a few blasts. “Living In” plots winding classical guitar against pitched bowls in a hybrid folk and jazz ballad. Elsewhere, “Bootleg” and lead single “A Man/Woman is a Lovesome Thing” pivot in the direction of soul and classicism, but include enough false footholds to keep things interesting.
The album also features Brandon Masterman on falsetto vocals and baritone and soprano saxophones, along with Shanti Randall (viola), Ben Montgomery (vocals, bass), Erik Cirelli (lap steel, guitar), and PJ Roduta (pitched bowls, percussion). The album is being released on Wild Kindness Records as a limited edition of 300 180-gram, gatefold LPs, a digitally download, and a series of handmade CD packages. Black Mark packaging and pressing were funded in part by a Kickstarter campaign.
Release date: September 3, 2013