Well, cards on the table… this album came out in April and I’m writing this in September. Maybe that’s how long it took to really seep in for me. Time tables aside, Blood Dancer is an impressive step forward for one of Chicago’s leading experimental rock groups Crown Larks.

I’m currently cranking the cassette copy of this album on a small boombox in my living room. While the tape format tends to compress things and lack a big booming bass presence I still get chills from these songs.

The opener “Gambian Blue Wave” is a brooding, almost frightening, 6-minute exploration. The song engulfs you in with it’s droning simplicity accented by saxophone flourishes that eventually build to moments of pure cacophony and come back down to some wonderful melodic bits.

“The Timebound Bloos” takes on more of a driving experimental sound. Imagine if you threw a Can song down a long stairway.

Devotees may recall my Give It A Spin post from last March featuring the track “Blood Mirage”. Those words still ring very true.

Serving as an ethereal midpoint to the album, “Fog, Doves” calms things down a bit with more minimalist instrumentation and a loose jazz rhythm. If you planned on blazing one to this album this might be a good place to light up.

“Defector” continues the minimalist approach but has a damn good groove to it.

The gentle piano intro to “Chapels” leads off this brilliantly layered psych rock tune. If the meandering nature of Crown Larks is too much for you then this track will keep you a bit more grounded.

Closing out the album is the nearly 8 minute epic “Overgrown”. All of the ideas the band has flirted with on the previous 6 tracks culminate into this one last jam. They’ve proven they can “tame themselves” and compose a solid rock tune (ie: “Chapels”) this is the opposite end of the spectrum.

The album as a whole shows Crown Larks in their element. Their songs are loose, but still feels well mapped out. They’re loud, yet so quiet it is deafening at times. Crown Larks are the sum of their parts; A musical gestalt that come together so perfectly at times that you can’t help but connect with their music on a purely emotional level.

Blood Dancer is available on vinyl thanks to Space Lung / Land Breathing records. The first cassette edition of the album is long sold out but luckily the folks at Already Dead Tapes have dubbed a second run. Whatever format you prefer, dive right into this album as soon as possible. Catch them live TONIGHT at Schuba’s (3159 N Southport Ave) with Yonatan Gat and The Avantist, more info & RSVP here.

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