Swahili Blonde: Deities In Decline

The LA no-wavers cut it back to core members and fundamentals. Is that enough to get by?

- Swahili Blonde has been many things and made many sounds since it's beginnings in 2009. Los Angeles based, it has seen many notable LA musicians contribute and collaborate, both live and in the studio, resulting in some rather colourful and experimental art rock. At its core, though, is vocalist Nicole Turley and violinist and bassist Laena Geronimo.

After their last album Psycho Tropical Ballet Pink, which is a bold and bouncy balancing act of clashing sounds and unruly rhythms, there were several delays in releasing their latest EP, Deities In Decline. Forgoing the large-scale collabs of previous efforts this is almost entirely a solo project, Laena Geronimo offers welcome ornamentations here and there but it is largely vocals, guitar and programmed drums. As such, it is meanderingly minimal.

I want to champion Turley's content, she's encouraging of artists taking pride in their creativity and scathing of mainstream idolatry, which is all very commendable, but there is this certain level of vaudevillian mysticism that undermines it all. Surreal imagery, consistent dalliances with dissonance and surf guitar tied together with a drum synth are the ingredients that are also used in the ridiculous world of The Mighty Boosh - that pop culture pantheon which celebrates superficial idols and rock posturing, albeit with their tongues firmly in their cheeks. The position of Deities In Decline's tongue, however, is not exactly firm and the irony not exactly overt.

So for the duration of the EP, you feel like you are on a somewhat challenging path to the guru of empowerment, only to arrive and the guru googles a hallucinogen and directs you to that herb shop five blocks down from your inner city dig. It's that old form and function quandary and unfortunately Swahili Blonde's conviction is rendered impotent when it's restricted to it's core members.

- Nick Rodwell.

Album Details

Album Title: Deities In Decline
Artist: Swahili Blonde
Record Label: (Neurotic Yell)