Black Tar Prophecies Vols. 4, 5 & 6 is the latest collection of Grails’ offshoot experiments from the past three years. Following in the same vein as the original Vols. 1, 2 & 3, the album is diverse, forlorn and wistful, if a bit disjointed. That’s not to say that each song doesn’t stand up well in its own right, though. “Self-Hypnosis” punches in with a fresh roll of blues riffs, while “Invitation to Ruin” finds dreary refuge in a Middle Eastern collage of found sound. “Up All Night” indulges in the steady beat of jazz pianos, and “Ice Station Zebra” is like the soundtrack to a spaghetti Western in space. From xylophones to eerie ballads and muddled recordings of “Nobody Knows the Troubles I’ve Seen,” Grails puts together a collection that may be experiencing a crippling identity crisis, but allows the listener to cherry-pick as they wish.
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