Decline of the West (Expanded Edition)
September 23rd 2008
Let’s call it Emil Amos’ “occult personality.” It’s a personality that has little regard for the mainstream reasoning of independent music. While indie-anything might not be funded by multinational conglomerates or directed toward the average teenage yokel, like all trends, a normative pattern has developed that is definitively associative with the indie genre. It is always only a matter of time before the more subversive and respirating aspects of countercultural movements become consolidated and imitated, in order to produce an easily replicable fashion.
This annexation is not necessarily a phenomenon analogous to comodification, but the resulting product and transformative process occurs along similar lines. This is also not a difficult or novel observation to be made. New and innovative forms of expression always morph into what is more easily consumable, or in their most influential moments, such expressions affect public sensibilities, reformatting the public’s expectations and restructuring the capillarian flow into the mainstream. Notice Virgin Mega Store’s small side shelf labeled “Indie Invasion.” Cutting to the chase, Emil Amos’ upcoming release under the moniker HolySons has been genetically engineered to resist this phenomenon. The newly expanded Decline of the West simply does not seem interested in lying on anyone’s proverbial plate.
That is not to say that Amos is an avant-garde original with austere concepts of individualism. Indeed, the drum machine aided acoustic guitar with layered vocals shtick has already been introduced to us by The Beta Band. Somber and sinister voiced lyrics long ago came back to life with Beck’s Sea Change, and Amos’s musings of Satanic Androids would have felt at home on 1994’s Mellow Gold. The smooth lilts from tracks off Decline of the West like Gnostic Device even have undeniable moments that pay heavy homage to Nate Dogg.
HolySons however, cannot be reduced. The loose nature of Amos’ recording process along with the choice of instrumentation and layering, as with the addition of the squeeze box on Bleakest Picture or the banjo on Things You Do While Waiting for the Apocalypse create an atmospheric quality that is perhaps perfectly fragile. To detract from any one element of HolySons would be to collapse its worth entirely. The record is grim and unclean, enigmatic but engaging. HolySons is a sometimes difficult to swallow pill that mollifies the aches and pains induced by the doldrums of scenester rock and roll.
Decline of the West- 2005
I want to Live a Peaceful Life- 2002
Enter the Uninhabitable- 2001
Staying True to the Acetone Roots- 2001
Lost Decade- Recorded 1994-1999