Album Review: This Is The Dark Timeline | Belmez Faces
Seattle - based Belmez Faces make music from the past, for the present and hopefully for the future. Their sound is alluring as old Goth and rhythmic as the rising electronic scene back in the 80's. Their latest offering called 'This Is The Dark Timeline' is wide enough to watch (or maybe, listen) those values unravel. Pressing 'play' >
The LP starts with 'Dominique' which got me singing instantly: ‘Dooominique, what do you need?’. It's THAT song you end up singing at random moments throughout the day, over and over, unconsciously. Made to stick with you like so many female-titled songs have done throughout history. See ‘Gloria’, ‘Billie Jean’ or ‘Jolene’ but make it 80’s Goth-Pop. In another time, under the right circumstances, this could really take off. Now, sinister indeed comes the following ‘Sinister Blood’ with a staccato feel exceeded by the percussion and synths. A mesmerizing bridge: ‘Sinister Blood on my hands’ born out of a blazing guitar and echoing vocals is promising to launch the listener to the stars for a while and back to earth. There's a psychedelic rock quality in there somehow. And we just got started.
‘No Tomorrow’ makes for another Depeche Mode-ish pop track that carries the legacy of the 80’s successfully. The low range vocals here are exceptional as well as that dreamy synth, gently bouncing in the background giving this ‘stardust sprinkled’ sense to this gem. Things are getting hotter with the flirty bass of ‘Over The Line’, made by all the materials we know until now, a bit more ‘floating in space’ with vocals reverberating to eternity. The filters are well-thought and processed (just like in the rest of the album, but even more here) to manage this time-travel that Belmez Faces aim for.
A feverish, almost erotic vibe is taking over as soon as ‘Nightingale’ starts playing. I can see this one burning slowly in the background of a lovers’ break-up scene in some vintage film playing at a Drive-in. ‘Nightingale’ is a dark, seductive piece to fall in love with. A ‘whisper in the night’ that can only be heard by the ones who know what a heartbreak truly feels like. It immediately goes in my top3 of the album without second thought.
And after this vulnerable moment, we are made to get up and dance until the morning light, seduced by the addictive beat of ‘Santa Carla’. As our bodies are moving under the crescent moon, this track is the ultimate spell to conjure this -long gone- era and its original glory back to life.
At this point I need to say that, a few years ago, there was this show called ‘Stranger Things’ that started an -80’s revival- domino in film, music and all forms of art and design. All that in the most fancy way possible, using all the tech our age can offer. Back to Belmez Faces, the band not only achieved a perfect resurrection but they also caught the whole essence of a time when electronic music was just starting to bloom and was far from the sharp, shiny sound that is dictated by today’s standards. Does that makes sense? That's craftsmanship.
Moving on, as the Greek audience that I am, ‘Catatonia’ had me prepared by the titled. So, ‘Κατατονία’ is a state of depression that comes in various forms like weakness, idleness, mutism etc. I have to say, the crawling pace and gloomy vibe of the track express the spirit of the term perfectly. This goes among the album's highlights for its mystical ethers, obscure speech and spatial atmosphere fused into a 3-minute nirvana, a transcending experience to lose yourself to. Same energy with Gaspar Noe’s ‘Enter The Void’ or even Royksopp’s collaboration with Robyn in ‘Monument’.
Somehow, 'Catatonia' signals the countdown for the end but ‘Kill The Light’ brings back the beat bravely into another love song, ideal for night-driving on empty highways in the summer. The pace of the snares marks the distance between each street light left behind by the speeding car. A flawless midnight jam. And every time we pass through endless tunnels, we hear the chorus of 'Abyssal Gigantism' repeating nostalgically, reminding us of all we can be, or even sadder, all we could have been. Feels like an ending scene where the protagonist has decided to move on with their life but the memories will be forever there to remind where they came from. Either way this tune brings a reserved smile of hope on our face because this is the life after all. 'Dark Timeline' is closing this bewitching ride, going 'way down' into the darkest corners of our heart, with a euphoric, climaxing bridge that actually feels like sex. It's a brother to 'Nightingale' but more intense and raw. This is actually pure fire, radiating a deep red glow, just like the cover art of this LP, and it's maybe the grandest moment of this experience. What an overwhelming aftertaste...
In a nutshell, Belmez Faces created a vintage body of work filled with lust and sentimentality, following all the principles of the honored era with respect. An album fully qualified to bring the legacy of the old Darkwave scene into -maybe- the darkest point in our timeline, 2021, a moment when hope is most needed. Now is the time to fall in love all over again and we have the perfect soundtrack for that.
PS: Dear Belmez Faces, your role in this rapidly changing world is vital so please keep raising your flag higher and higher.
Enjoy the Belmez Faces: