Black Heart Procession – In the Fishtank, Vol. 11

Black Heart Procession
In the Fishtank, Vol. 11

The Black Heart Procession is probably one of my favorite bands, making it hard for me to review this record accurately without being biased. I immediately want to say that anything I didn’t like about this collaboration was the fault of Solbakken. I say this, because I have no idea what kind of band Solbakken is or what end result is being sought. All things aside, there are enough features about this record that Black Heart Procession fans will find enjoyable.
The vocals on most of the songs are meant to be more of an afterthought; this is stated in the liner notes. This is considerably different from the way that Pall Jenkins’ vocals are in Black Heart Procession. This record sees them washed through with reverb, when they appear at all. Many of the songs on this record are presumably sung by members of Solbakken. I assume this because it doesn’t sound like anyone from Black Heart Procession and the insert credits no particular person with performing the vocals on specific songs.
The music sounds almost exactly like Black Heart Procession for all six tracks. There aren’t many songs where it is distinguishable that Solbakken is even participating. Anyone who has heard Black Heart Procession before will be immediately familiar with the acoustic guitars, piano, and various other instruments normally employed by the band. This is fleshed out somewhat by a few electronic elements I assume Solbakken brought to the table.
“Voiture En Rouge” begins with a monologue spoken in French over a bed of spooky piano lines. After a few minutes, Jenkins’ vocals come wafting into the song only to be usurped somewhere in the middle and reinstated at the end. “Dog Song” is probably the only complete let-down on the record. The members of Solbakken must have written the lyrics because they are insipid. The saving grace is the brief moment when Jenkins sings part of the refrain with them. “Nervous Persian” is held up by The Black Heart Procession’s graceful swooning piano and drums. It would fit perfectly amongst any other Black Heart Procession songs. “A Taste of You and Me” has a piano part that is extremely reminiscent of Belle and Sebastian. Once again the vocals are handled by Solbakken and are best if ignored. “Things Go on with Mistakes” is a wonderful song altogether. It has a stuttering drum machine behind an elegant piano and guitar track.
Although I wouldn’t recommend this record for anyone just getting into The Black Heart Procession, longtime fans will find many things to enjoy in it. The songs are well structured musically even if some of them are lyrically vacant. It mostly makes me curious as to what the next Black Heart Procession full-length will sound like. That can only be a good thing.