On her third album, Carla Bozulich offers a compelling new twist on the Constellation label’s well-established m.o. of livid paranoia: a siren voice. Branching out from the alt.country stylings of her work with the Geraldine Fibbers and her two previous solo albums, Bozulich moves daringly into territory previously mapped by labelmates Godspeed You! Black Emperor and A Silver Mt. Zion. It’s no surprise, then, to find members of that collective adding their distinctive patina of broken optimism and hinted-at menace to the record. Nowhere is the Constellation effect more pronounced than on the disorienting, nine-minute “Evangelista I,” which sets the Patti Smith-like intensity of Bozulich’s voice against a filmic backdrop of buzz-saw strings, distant crackle, and eerie knocking and creaking sounds. It’s a searingly vivid Expressionist drama whose impact is sustained beautifully over the remaining eight songs.
“How To Survive Being Hit By Lightning” sees Bozulich’s bewitching voice buried low and murky in the mix, emerging with feline grace from liquid drops of guitar and stealthy, undulant noise. On the excellent cover of Low’s “Pissing,” Bozulich’s understated choral vocal is gradually enveloped in screaming guitar and a throbbing, insistent pulse. “Evangelista II,” meanwhile, is an unsettling finale – a restrained concoction in which the tender, erotic closeness of the lyric is lethally undermined by the plumes of feedback emanating from Efrim Menuck’s guitar.
Evangelista is a genuinely collaborative effort in which the one weak point of recent work by A Silver Mt. Zion—Menuck’s reedy, tremulous vocals—is decisively addressed through the seductive elegance of Bozulich’s voice. With her latest album, Bozulich has found a group of musicians able to illustrate with vivid acuity her troubled, affecting songs.