The Black Heart Procession 
Tropics of Love
/touch & go; 2004/



more info:

The dvd is much more a fan’s format than cd but… Here finally is a dvd that does NOT require its spectator to be a die-hard fan of the band concerned to watch its entire contents. You sure have to like The Black Heart’s Procession gloomy music to enjoy this dvd (directed by Pall Jenkins and Matthew Hoyt) but you don’t particularly have to be a fan. Basically, The Tropics of Love gathers the video clips to all songs in The Black Heart Procession’s 4th album, warmly titled Amore Del Tropico. The original and interesting point is that the videos let a film take shape. The 15 tracks create a story, a musical film devoid of dialogues, dealing with the album’s theme: a murder mystery. A dismissed boyfriend nonchalantly named Luigi stabs his charming ex-brunette girlfriend out of pique and is subsequently overwhelmed by remorse. This murder generates an investigation which eventually leads him to being arrested and pondering over his infamous act in jail.

Without elaborating on the original songs, The Black heart Procession smartly added slight intermissions to let the atmosphere develop and prevent the doleful story from being disrupted by unnecessary and abrupt cuts. If these intermissions are not real sound bridges (taking the cinematic definition into account), they work as such in the sense that when you know the original songs and the album track list’s order, they provide a continuous aspect which links both the songs in-between them and the music to the images, which can be compared as continuity in cinema. Thus the successful addition of all the videos makes a nice feature length movie in which the audience waits for the resolution of its plot. Ah Hollywood… However, the mysterious atmosphere is less influenced by golden age film noir than it is by modern mystery films.

Considering the videos, there are strong moments and weaker ones as in every film. Stand-out tracks are the introductory ones which gives momentum and distance right away thanks to the 70’s detective film treatment and ‘Tropics of Love’ cryptic, sometimes surrealistic atmosphere (horse-headed double bass player, magnifying glasses). If ‘Broken world’ makes the break up sad, ‘Why I stay’ resumes the surrealistic melancholy portraying Luigi visually racked by frequent apparitions that seem to belong to the song whose doleful saw echoes the character’s mind. ‘Did you wonder ?’ strangely evokes Clerks’ indolent, loser-life atmosphere thanks to its black & white treatment, its humour, Luigi being tormented by the omnipresent band which seems to make fun of him. Tobias Nathaniel’s various roles participate to this humorous aspect as well. The rhythmic treatment of the killing scene in ‘Sympathy Crime’ avoids any superfluous grandiloquence and succeeds in creating suspense, making this precise moment closer to Shining than to cheap horror movies or series. Pall Jenkins aka Roman Dmitri Dziensuwki aka Luigi - who greatly performs a perfect anti-hero - motionless self-disgust and hopeless daydream in prison is another touching sequence despite its utter lack of funds. The audience is free to decide whether the old man Luigi pictures is actually himself 30 years later or just an image of how he’ll end up.

The Black Heart Procession already released one of the year’s best cd earlier (In the Fishtank 11 along with Solbakken) and undeniably releases one of the best musical dvds as well. You just can be disappointed by the bogus aspect of the bonus (while a commentary track would have come in handy) but then this sad and occasionally funny piece is not just meant for fans…

-SEB ‘a heart like mine’ WOOd.

/june 15th 2004/