I’ll never forget the first time I heard 2004’s Altamont Diary by Melbourne, Australia’s Black Cab. I was stunned, stunned to the point of total stupefaction. At long last, a concept album about one of my all-time favorite fiascos! And it was great, grand, a total triumph! My heart went pitter-patter. My brain throbbed, thrilled. And I developed a rare case of instantaneous tumescence, of the sort best described by the legendarily libidinous Henry Miller as “a piece of lead with wings on it.”
Okay, so I made up the part about the hard-on. But it really was a spectacular case of smitten upon first listen. And I’ve been smitten ever since. The band’s sound is a seemingly impossible fusion of electronica, Far Eastern instrumentation, and Krautrock, but Black Cab possesses the uncanny ability to strike precisely the right balance between those influences, producing electronica-flavored songs that evoke both midnight candles bobbing on little platforms in the river Ganges and the droning propulsion of those prophets of the Autobahn, Neu!
That’s the great news. The not-so-great news is that their latest release, 2014’s The Games of the XXI Olympiad, is largely a venture into pure electronica. Don’t get me wrong. The album is a pleasure to the ears and was good enough to garner them a gig as openers for Tangerine Dream. But I miss, oh how I miss, the Eastern influences and Krautrock trappings that made Altamont Diary so brilliant. Which is why I’m ignoring their latest to review 2006’s Jesus East. It’s Krautrock-heavy and has been shown scientifically to provoke dancing in laboratory mice, who are notoriously picky when it comes to their tastes in music.