There's a crucial scene in Wim Wenders's Wings Of Desire in which Nick Cave, in full greased-up Dark Prince mode, mesmerizes a skanky Berlin nightclub with scary-good dystopian cabaret creepiness. The Spell, the latest album from San Diego brooders Black Heart Procession, could be the soundtrack to the post-last-call moments at that bar. Cinematic, saturated with strings, shadowy Kurt Weillian minor-key melodies, the gaping, creaky soundscapes here are hypnotic: saws moan, violins squeal and guitars echo, evoking a vast, desolate wasteland. BHP's oblique lyrics hint at modern conspiracy theories (surveillance, groupthink) and the uglier sides of romance (self-sublimation), but remain deliberately vague -- sometimes frustratingly so. It's too bad hackneyed spider-woman metaphors and non-specific allusions to 'regret' don't match BHP's level of sonic sophistication.
Black Heart Procession hit Lee's Palace tonight (Thursday, August 3).