Smog – Dongs of Sevotion

Smog
Dongs of Sevotion

Brooding, intense and sparse, Bill Callahan’s latest effort as Smog digs further into the dark musical trenches carefully excavated in previous releases. Though nobody could accuse Callahan of being “uplifting,” like on most of his recordings, rays of musical sunlight do occasionally pierce the rolling clouds of despair. Framed by Callahan’s crackling, monotone vocal delivery and impeccably crafted production (guitar, piano and drums frequently resonate gloriously against one another), Dongs of Sevotion simmers with a hypnotic, albeit very cold sense of serenity.
Like the best parts of Knock-Knock (Smog’s previous release), Dongs of Sevotion at times possesses a sense of hopeful reserve, even humor to prop your weary musical shoulder against. For instance “Easily Led” and “Permanent Smile,” in spite of their near-elegiac pace and moody hints of contrition, manage to suggest that retribution lies just around the corner. There’s even a perverse (and very black) sense of humor that surfaces from time to time, gasping for life (as in “Dress Sexy for My Funeral”) above the stormy emotional milieu.
Much like “River Guard” (from Knock-Knock), Dongs of Sevotion shores up all the doom and gloom stylings with near pastoral tranquility. Throughout the recording, Callahan’s bracing, icily deployed musings amidst the (oftentimes) stirring guitar and tight instrumental barrages make the lyrical brutality worth the challenge. Those familiar with Smog’s earlier work will find Dongs of Sevotion fits nicely with the existentialist trajectory etched out in Red Apple Falls and Knock-Knock. Lonely and despairing, cycling from hushed reverence to near cataclysmic guitar-fueled assaults on finality, Dongs of Sevotion offers yet another dark, unsettling journey into Smog-land. If you prefer your musical travels thorny and barren, its a trip well worth taking.