Pastor of Oaks, Sheppherd of Stones: St Just Vigilantes
The St Just Vigilantes – Pastor of Oaks, Shepherd of Stones
Transparent Face/Static Caravan
BY SHAUN PRESCOTT ON OCTOBER 13, 2008 REVIEWS
For much of this decade, prominent exponents of the “New Weird America’ have drawn directly from the back catalogue of New York based label ESP for inspiration. Founded in the mid-sixties, record collectors with a penchant for the obscure or outright bizarre have held ESP in high regard, and apparently much of this decade’ psych-folk/prog entourage have as well. If you play Devendra Banhart back to back with, say, Charles Manson or even Ed Askew, the similarities often point towards outright appropriation.
So it comes as no surprise that The St Just Vigilantes pun on ESP in their press release. Their packaging aesthetic recalls the type of mysticism that made some of the greatest (and weirdest) of the ESP catalogue so tantalising, so mysterious. Sonically speaking, The St Just Vigilantes fit the bracket snugly, and while they don’ offer anything particularly revelatory there is a certain anti-intuitive charm to this record that justifies the 55 minutes.
There’ the by-the-numbers occult connotations and pastoral imagery in tracks like “The Angel in the Angle’, where a choiring dirge of male and female vocals bareback an ensemble of rattles, scraped string instruments and earthy percussion. Elsewhere, skeletal synthetic beats are joined with xylophone and clean acoustic picking, forming a few brief forays into actual song on “Rose Grenades’ and “Your Name Like Light in My Mouth’. For the most part though, The St Just Vigilantes has more in common with their more cerebral and atmospheric contemporaries like Espers: this is pure auditory escapism, a sonic equivalent to your Piers Anthony novels. To their credit, The St Just Vigilantes succeed in whisking the listener into a world closely resembling Xanthe, or the front cover of a particularly outlandish ESP record.
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