Evangelista – Hello, Voyager

Evangelista
Hello, Voyager

“Paper Kitten Claw,“ the 8th track on Hello, Voyager, sums up the career of Carla Bozulich in a nutshell. “Every time you see the word never/you must cross it out.“ She is another entry in the category of no nonsense, boundary pushing, kinda scary rock women such as Lydia Lunch, Diamanda Galas, and Exene Cervenka. No disrespect is but PJ Harvey should hope to be as adventurous. If Harvey were to open up her Beefheart & Waits influences they would fall somewhere in line with the path that Bozulich has taken.

It’s the usual sort of story everyone is familiar with by now regarding the 90’s alternative rock scene. Underground band with an unusual sound gets signed by a major label, puts out some great but not profitable albums, gets dropped by label and then the chances are good the band breaks up. The Geraldine Fibbers were one such band. Their debut for Virgin, Lost Somewhere Between The Earth and My Home, ended up on Spin’s year end charts and still holds up as one of the oddest and most beautiful albums released by a major. Nels Cline joined the band for their second album, Butch, which strangely enough was a cleaner, more pop friendly affair. Then the axe fell, Cline has since joined Wilco, (come on, you have to fit that angle in somewhere) and Bozulich has created some of the best and most daring work of her career. If there’s something she wants to attempt, she’s going to do it and it’s going to be done her way.

Evangelista, the name of her last album, is now the name of her new project. For Hello, Voyager she enlisted the help of the Silver Mt. Zion Choir and recorded at Hotel2Tango in Montreal. The album calls to mind everything from Jim Morrison to Jandek, but is far more listenable than either one. For recording with the Godspeed collective the album doesn’t feature their brand of apocalyptic post rock. Bozulich is far more concerned with telling tells of her own personal turmoil. It almost feels as though everything she’s written about previously has led to this point.

“Lucky Lucky Luck” is as creepy as you can get. Singing as a character with an evil soul and a dead heart it some how doesn’t seem much like a character at all, more like an autobiography. It’s a low key, rather slinky song, punctuated with a sinister chorus of “woo hoo’s.” There are several instrumentals featuring layers of sound; guitars and other ambient noises carefully weave in an out of each other, adding to the unsettling mood. Even when not using her trademark growl Bozulich stamps her name all over a song. Although nothing is as accessible and rocking as her work with the Fibbers, “Smooth Jazz” and “Truth Is Dark Like Outer Space” keep Voyager from being bogged down.

No longer bound by a major label and having such gifted musicians such as A Silver Mt. Zion & company, Bozulich is free to let her talents open up and get abstract. The two make for an amazing pair though the show is clearly hers. But if you happen to come across a Geraldine Fibbers album in the used bins, do yourself a favor & pick that up as well.