The Black Angels ‎– Phosphene Dream

Blue Horizon (3) ‎– BHV-16780-2
CD, Album

Companies, etc.



Fold-out digipak contains 16-page booklet with all song lyrics.

Produced and Mixed at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, CA (May 2009), and at Sage & Sound in Hollywood, CA (September/October 2009).

© & ℗ 2010 The Black Angels under license to Blue Horizon Ventures.

On back cover:
Manufactured & Distributed by The Orchard.
On Disc:
Manufactured & Distributed by ADA Global.

Barcode and Other Identifiers

  • Barcode: 0 16581 67802 6
  • Matrix / Runout: | BHV167802 | *040469 |

Other Versions (4 of 4) View All

Cat# Artist Title (Format) Label Cat# Country Year
none The Black Angels Phosphene Dream(2xCDr, Album, Promo) Not On Label none US 2010 Sell This Version
BHV-16780-1 The Black Angels Phosphene Dream(LP, Album, 180) Blue Horizon (3) BHV-16780-1 US 2010 Sell This Version
BHV-16780-2ADV, BHV167802ADV The Black Angels Phosphene Dream(CD, Album, Promo) Blue Horizon (3), Blue Horizon (3) BHV-16780-2ADV, BHV167802ADV US 2010 Sell This Version
PCD-20102 The Black Angels Phosphene Dream(CD, Album) P-Vine Records PCD-20102 Japan 2011 Sell This Version


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December 20, 2015

The Black Angels third album, and first release on Blue Horizon, is the highly anticipated "Phosphene Dream", which is set to come out on September 14th. Phosphene Dream marks a giant leap forward for the band. Produced and mixed by Dave Sardy (Oasis, Wolfmother, Band of Horses, Black Mountain) over a period of six months in Los Angeles, the album shows off a bold new direction for The Black Angels both sonically and musically, a fresh take on the neo-Psychedelic movement they've been at the forefront of for years.

The Black Angels had a similar experience. Over their two previous albums, they married the fuzz-laden party angst of the Nuggets collections with a sense of impending doom familiar to fans of The Velvet Underground, The Stooges. The result was some ‘classic’ psychedelic music, crawling out of the narcotic swamp dripping feedback and shamanic, lurching vocal performances. It wasn’t clever, but it very definitely sounded big.

Their third album, Phosphene Dream, has been greeted with some fanfare: mainly due to it being the first release on reincarnated legendary blues label Blue Horizon. This doesn’t appear to have phased the Texans, who wore their appreciation of the blues firmly on their sleeves prior to signing to Mike Vernon’s label, and Phosphene Dream is primarily business as usual: murky, gloomy and hazy, the musical equivalent of a valium hit.

Opener ‘Bad Vibrations’ is every bit the song its title suggests, a wobbling and ebbing intro of throbbing guitar barely making space for Alex Maas’s strained vocals, which throughout the record sound like they’re coming from somewhere down the hall, spread eagled against a corner, deep inside some personal void. The sting, in this case, is very much in the tail, as eerily picked lonesome guitar segues into a brisk up-tempo motorik for the final quarter of the track. Granted, it’s neither rocket science nor re-inventing the wheel, but the best moments of Phosphene Dream categorically prove that The Black Angels are at their best when they just let things roll on by.

These moments number amongst them a stompingly anthemic title track that whirs out to a guitar twisted into the sound of muggy rotorwash, evoking thoughts of the original garage psychedelia movement’s opposition to Vietnam. The Sabbath-aping ‘Haunting At 1300 McKinley’; which sees fuzz briefly swapped for a crushing riff, is entertainingly blunt, but the pummeling ‘River of Blood’ perhaps steals the show. Sadly, the latter murder ballad, doesn’t make any reference to Enoch Powell, and lyrically, the band rarely stretch beyond snatches of beat crypticism and the odd snatch of political platitude (“Our President was dead to us / Hallelujah/ He takes his pills so he can kill / Praise the bible”). Not that that’s a problem: the delivery is uniformly well matched to the music and provides a crucial bit of treble to the sound. On the quasi-religious ‘True Believers’, Maas’s reedy tones are muezzin-like, clanging against 'Paint It Black'-style sitar and the dense hum of archaic electronics most admirably.

But Phosphene Dream does occasionally come unstuck, and sadly, none more so than when the band deviate from their template. Upbeat numbers like ‘Telephone’, ‘Yellow Elevator’ and ‘Sunday Afternoon’ lack the crunch of the rest of the record, and almost sound so breezy as to be a pastiche of their influences. ‘Telephone’ especially, with its cheery organ riff and catchy chorus, feels entirely out of place and off-key, the delivery making it feel like a piece of montage music from an Austin Powers film.

Phosphene Dream does little to disgrace The Black Angels, and further establishes their reputation as a solid and reliable, if occasionally staid, psychedelic rock band. There’s a definite identity to the band on this third album, and its highest points are some of the highest of the band’s career thus far, but to this listener, the band lack the kind of killer edge displayed by newer challengers to the retro-rock throne, such as San Francisco’s Wooden Ships. That said, if you like the influences clearly on display, there’s little to fault, and plenty of fuzzy swagger to bask in.


July 16, 2014

Psychedelic Music will forever be linked to the Summer of Love, Hippies, Sgt. Pepper, and all things bright and shiny ... when the world was poised for a new generation to set the pace, leading this country out of the darkness and into the light. While those ideals were certainly fine, and well worth anyone’s consideration, we all know that the sun was blotted out, darker forces, and darker drugs took over, pushing the Flower Power generation into the corners, leaving only fringe elements to survive.

Rather than taking their queues from this era, The Black Angels riding out of Texas, home of The 13th Floor Elevators, wrap themselves in a time-warp of velvety lush psychedelia, creating riffs, and building drones rich with a heaping helping of garage psych, while inviting the listener to take an inward journey of acid pop, more reminiscent of The Velvet Underground and The Doors, pressing visions of coloured fuzz, and altered tempos, all the while coaxing atmospheric moods across your irises.

Now ... in keeping with the psychedelic era of the 60’s, the album cover is nothing short of stunning. Both the record and the disc jackets are gated heavily embossed sleeves, an aspect that will not last long I’m sure, so grab an early copy for your collection.

Making comparisons to their previous outings seems somehow unfair, because The Black Angels have not stood still, presenting more of the same ... they’ve taken a step forward, cutting back on the track lengths, and washing more textures than might be necessary, but I don’t see any other way of shifting into overdrive, than to create a new chapter, which they have magically done.

Just for your amusement ... A phosphene us an entoptic phenomenon characterized by the experience of seeing light without light actually entering the eye. The word phosphene comes from the Greek words phos [light] and phainein [to show]. Phosphenes are flashes of light, often associated with optic neuritis, induced by movement or sound. Phosphenes can be directly induced by mechanical, electrical, or magnetic stimulation of the retina or visual cortex as well as by random firing of cells in the visual system. Phosphenes have also been reported by meditators, commonly called nimitta, also people who go for long periods without visual stimulation, known as the prisoner's cinema, or those who are using psychedelic drugs.

Review by Jenell Kesler