Review: Big Blood – Operate Spaceship Earth Properly (Feeding Tube, Jun 15)

Since rising from the ashes of Cerberus Shoal over a decade ago, Maine-based folk duo Big Blood still show no signs of slowing down. The legendary husband-and-wife powerhouse formed by Caleb Mulkerin and Colleen Kinsella have released at least one record every year since 2006, and while not all of their releases are perfect, there’s a consistent quality that seems to contradict such prolificacy. But upon the release of Big Blood & Thunder Crutch, the band’s other album this year, I was nervous for the future; while I appreciated the record’s experiments, it was the only album I’ve ever heard from Big Blood that I have genuinely disliked. Thankfully, my doubts have been eased with the arrival of Operate Spaceship Earth Properly, which I now place among their best work. From the opening notes of “When I Was Young” it’s clear that Mulkerin and Kinsella are going in a totally different direction than Thunder Crutch or even any of their other albums. While psychedelia has always been an important facet of Big Blood’s music, there is a different, heavier psych rock influence on this music, which pairs well with their signature repetitiveness and hypnotic, droning compositions. Mulkerin’s distinctive vocals are noticeably absent, with Kinsella’s ominous high warbles taking charge and providing a fantastic contrast with the fuzzy guitars and growling bass. The short electronic freakout interludes, such as “Jagged Orbit” and “Pink Eye,” are a welcome repose and make sure the listener doesn’t fall into a trance, and “Olamina” is one of the most amazing songs I’ve ever heard. With *Operate Spaceship Earth Properly*, Big Blood has once again proved why they’re one of my favorite bands, and that they can take their music to new places without sacrificing quality.

2 thoughts on “Review: Big Blood – Operate Spaceship Earth Properly (Feeding Tube, Jun 15)

  1. Great to see your positive, articulate review of this magnificent new album by my favorite band in the world. Agreed that Olamina is astonishing. I want to add a suggestion, gently, that maybe you oughtn’t give up on the Thunder Crutch record yet! I found it distant, puzzling, abstract and inaccessible at first, other than a couple compelling numbers. After five or six listens I felt ready to set it aside as an album that’s too experimental for my layered-vocal and melody-loving years, but something kept me returning and listening and now, probably about thirty listens in, it’s turned into one of my favorites in the Big Blood catalog. Give it another chance!

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