An Evening Redness drink deeply from desert skies, spread psyche doom on alluring debut record

Photo by Nohemi Moran

I lose myself in music that immediately gives me visions of some far-off place or something that activates my imagination. It’s why anytime music transports me into the cosmos, I tend to gravitate toward it because I’ve never been to the stars and likely never will, so the musical experience is as close as I’ll get to alien terrain.

An Evening Redness’ self-titled debut album (the band name and themes are inspired by Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian) falls into this same category, though it’s not taking us anywhere beyond this earth. Instead, the music, a rich mix of drone, dusty Americana, and doom, transports the listener deep into the desert, playing with heat and isolation as well as colorful evening skies that breath new life into your lungs. Composed, arranged, and produced by Brandon Elkins, this six-track album also soothes with warm hallucinogens, bloody lands, and biblical terrors, and he’s joined by vocalist Bridget Bellavia (BLKTXXTH, Piggy Black Cross), guest soloist Brendan Sloan (Convulsing), and drummer Ryan Jewell to flesh out these creations. Bellavia’s vocals are especially haunting, and the music is impossible to shake as your dreams take you right into the driest part of the land where your mind tells you stories you didn’t know existed.

“Alkali” is the 12-minute opener that stretches its legs and expands as it basks in acoustics and electric hum, slide guitars make the dusk thicker and tastier, and the haze turns into drone. That elements picks up and double, sizzling in eerie whirring, dumping you harder into western terrain, making your stomach rumble, disintegrating into the cold distance. “Mesa Skyline” has keys swarming as Bellavia’s voice enters the fray, feeling both sultry, soulful, and calming. The guitars make your mind melt, bringing a spacey chill, adding a noiry country sheen and then basking in slurry atmosphere. “Winter, 1847” melts in and vibrates, delivering a cosmic swirl amid crackling fires and dramatic synth darts. Theatrical orchestration kicks in and creates some of the most unexpected moments of the entire record, and the returning slide guitar brings some redness to the sky, scorching flesh and delivering darkness.

“The Judge” runs 10:39 and dawns amid steely harmonica and rain pattering, the synth knifing in behind and creating imaginative psychedelic colors. The atmosphere thickens as majestic swirling picks up and increases the falling mists, and then the harmonica returns and calls from the distance. The desert vibe thickens even more, your ears begin to ring, and darkness lurks as the horizons turn orange and purple. “Pariah” brings more fire and precipitation as Bellavia returns and calls into the night, balmy temperatures working their way in and making flesh crawl. The vocals stretch as the keys glisten, the singing lures souls from other dimensions, and the playing ends at the heart of a fever dream. “Black Flame at the Edge of the Desert” ends the record with lush country ease and voices calling, jazzy guitar making the hair stand on your arms. Western vibes and the yawning night sky meet as acoustics add a gentle flourish, and then the agitation arrives. “No salvation!” Bellavia wails, the sounds combust, and everything collapses into an angelic wonder.

I’ve never been to a desert, but I feel like I have an idea of what to expect psychologically just from taking on An Evening Redness’ self-titled record. The music sinks into your mind and body, teasing you, testing you, asking for your full emotional commitment. Every component woven into this record is key to making this whole thing work, luring you into the trap to let the music have its way with your mind.

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