Dribliyj Nunez, music writer
‘Challenged Björk to Blockbusters, and lost’
An album to accompany the end of days. The man known as ‘Howlin’ cuts an honest figure, reflecting on a journey, in part real and part imagined, which took him from Novosibirisk to Nashville – from the fall of the Soviet Union to the terrifying futility of our world as it stands. Having tasted the charmed civility of Southern hospitality, brushing off his boots revealed all too plainly that there be monsters within.
For Anton Bleak, a search for answers that began in reflective fashion at the mouth of the great Siberian river Yenisey came full circle when, written on a plane back from Nashville in the midst of intense news broadcasts, the song ‘Great Satan Rising’ sees the new man in black realise in earnest how our current reality is far more terrifying than the doomsday prophecies of old.
Our current reality is far more terrifying than the doomsday prophecies of old.
Featuring a tribute to country blues and folk singer Karen Dalton, a great inspiration of his, a biker murder ballad and a song about a sun-worshiping suicide cult, the tone transitions from solemn to bleak in both name and nature. Indeed, ethereal tale ‘Cowboy From Hell’, which features the mercurial Hana Piranha (Birdeatsbaby, The Red Paintings) on stand up harp, confronts a spectral figure haunting someone who’s hit a dead end, while acclaimed Japanese horror film score composer Takatsuna Mukai takes to the strings on violin elsewhere on a record unshy of adding a dash of gallows humour.
Paying tribute to Ays Kura – engineer and stalwart of London’s alternative scene to whom he attributes the feasability of the project, Howlin’ Anton Bleak’s journey into ‘Stranger Country’ is not one he has made alone. Alongside a spirited reunion with Bleak bassist Rachel Woodworth, the blues-death juggernaught of which he was frontman for over a decade, elsewhere we have stompbox from drum prodigy Nick McBrain and piano from alt-blues wildman Ben Rowntree (Oh Maddie, Midnight Barbers), as well as further Bleak veteran AP Clarke alongside ghost of Misnomer past ‘Belter’ Jim Lacey on his haunting slide guitar.
‘Stranger Country’ by Howlin’ Anton Bleak is out now
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