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Old Time Relijun - Lost Light

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Artist: Old Time Relijun

Album: Lost Light

Label: K

Review date: May. 14, 2004

With each passing year, it seems as if Arrington de Dionyso gets a little older, a little less bold, a little more settled. The lead singer and twisted mastermind behind Old Time Relijun even sounds tame at times on Lost Light, OTR’s first full-length since 2001’s Witchcraft Rebellion. The album dusts off some of the melodic riffs and vocal struts that always marched beneath Dionyso’s white noise; some tracks even sound like they were snatched from other Relijun albums and stripped of feedback. The structured Southern-sermon “Cold Water” preaches with the same passion and numbing repetition of Rebellion’s “Dark of the Male, Light of the Female,” while “War is Over,” a (blissfully-named) proud number closes the album with as much grit as anything on OTR’s past efforts.

Though Dionyso has been compared with the one and only Jon S. of exploding twelve-bar fame, the cleanliness of Lost Light dispels any myth that he’s channeling Jon Spencer. Dionyso doesn’t soil timeless chord progressions like the Blues Explosion or the Immortal Lee County Killers; he builds his guitar riffs from scratch, gently eschewing anything that sounds remotely like anything before. His vocals do support comparisons to Captain Beefheart (hopped up), especially in the way that he uses his voice as Old Time’s signature sound. His versatility and flamboyance make the leap from rich, demonic throat growls to fire-and-brimstone-parson-meets-glam-rock howls easy and charming.

In a recent show at L.A.’s underground hotspot, The Smell, Arrington took stage in a nauseating heat and ripped off an impromptu musical testimonial, looking the part of a mythological troubadour in his faun-like beard, stripped to the skivvies and pouring sweat from a tense and arched body. What struck me hard was his willingness to smile at himself, as if the pose he takes on stage isn’t a man trapped in the body of a performer or a goat-man. He has fun, a hell of a lot of it, and plays up to the pseudo-preacher he feigns because he enjoys it, not simply because that’s what his audience has come to expect. If you’ve not converted or haven’t heard the gospel before, Lost Light is the most accessible introduction yet.

By Joel Calahan

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