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Alvarius B 

Blood Operatives of the Barium Sunset

Wednesday, Nov 9 2005
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Alvarius B is the solo pseudonym of Alan Bishop from the Sun City Girls, a band with one massive, sprawling discography. Bishop also co-runs the prolific world-music label Sublime Frequencies. Amidst all this, he still found time to create one of the more engaging and weirdly accessible projects in the SCG-related pantheon. The third Alvarius B full-length and the first in seven years, Blood Operatives is filled with well-written, sneeringly sinister psychedelic folk songs. The first track, "Evil Next to Blue," sets the tone, with Bishop's no-punches-pulled nasty narrative sounding a bit like Nick Cave crossed with T. Rex. Songs "Mr. 786," "Slim 293," and "The Demon 360" showcase the album's thematic focus on anonymous characters that populate our planet's "parallel communities" -- based no doubt on shady souls Bishop has met during his travels -- and some tunes smack of Bob Dylan's quasicryptic lyricism and the over-saturated production intimacy of Guided by Voices. Plus, the album features three well-chosen covers: a song from Andy Warhol's Blood for Dracula, an Ennio Morricone composition entitled "Dirty Angels," and the traditional "Shenandoah." Blood Operatives is only available on vinyl, so you'd best dust off that turntable; I seriously doubt it'll show up on iTunes.

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Mike Rowell

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