Black Moses – Emperor Deb – Review

Black Moses

Emperor Deb (Lunasound)
by Brian Varney

First thoughts upon starting track one were “Jesus, these guys must’ve spent a year or two ingesting the last minute or so of ‘1969’.” Then I glanced at the press sheet and saw that one of these guys was in Thee Hypnotics and everything started to make sense.

In case you’ve never heard of them, Thee Hypnotics were an early ’90s UK band that transparently worshipped the Stooges (to be fair, this was before every idiot who started a garage band claimed the Stooges as an influence). I remember the cool kid on my bus in junior high (the same guy who introduced me to the Stooges, by the way) telling me to check these guys out, especially the one where they’re standing in a circle and looking up on the front cover (Come Down Heavy). I followed the kid’s advice and picked up the album, and though it never did much for me, it certainly brought things into focus re: Black Moses.

However, I don’t wish to lead you to believe that Black Moses are a Thee Hypnotics rehash. Though the first thing you hear on Emperor Deb is a blatant Stooges lift, it’s to the band’s credit that the music begins to follow tangential paths almost immediately. The album’s most pronounced emphasis is not on re-creating Stooges guitar riffs, but rather on the rhythm section and the grooves it creates. Musically, many of the tracks are not so much songs as tension/release exercises in groove. At times, Black Moses brings Jon Spencer Blues Explosion to mind, but with crisper playing, tighter grooves, and bright, indie-rock vocal harmonies stacked on top. And thankfully, no one shouts “Black Moses!” every few minutes.

And while this style is interesting, I’m not sure if it’s such a good idea. These guys can put a groove down pretty well, but I don’t think James Brown’s worrying yet, y’know? Still, if you really like the Stooges and the Beastie Boys, you might wanna give this a shot.