October 2020 - BluesBlues

Dutch band Templo Diez brings us their sixth album, Starlight, which was five years in the making and takes us on a deeply personal journey for the band members. Drawing inspiration from personal events, dreams, books and movies, the band brings 10 introspective dreamscapes that are not for the faint hearted. Ragged, jangling guitar and strings brings an eerie start to 303 South and at first I’d have said that it was a low key start to the album. It is, but having listened to the rest, it doesn’t get any more upbeat. We get the odd thunder of drums and bass and a weary vocal but it’s 3 and a half minutes before we get the band exploding into a cacophony of sound. There’s a feature of Lou Reed style vocal in places through the album and on the compelling Night Wind we get our first example. The band is in from the start and there’s a bit of melody creeping in. It’s not unpleasant but at six and a half minutes, maybe a bit too long as there’s no breaks to lift us out of the depths. The introduction of female backing vocals slightly masks the continued low key feel and there’s a bit of Prog Rock going on although they’ll never be accused of burning out, energy wise at least. The sombre Southern And The Dog shows that they like to go in for their soundscapes and with this dark, you could say Americana, plodder the effect is brought about with ragged guitar. Piano is introduced on Clear Fence but any hope of joviality is soon quashed. I think this would fit into an album of faster paced songs quite easily but it obviously fits the low key mood of this album too. The rhythm section finally gets a true outing and there’s an interesting untidy guitar solo. I’d say, think Velvet Underground.

There’s a more conformist start to More Rain On Vegas and the female vocal certainly gives a different dimension. Again, it’s not upbeat but its dreamy approach really works this time. There’s a hint of Jefferson Airplane here, certainly 60s psychedelia but it ends too abruptly. It’s back to a Lou Reed vocal for Sister and this just washes over you as the guitarist plays it straight and there’s none of the harsh sounds to be found elsewhere. Think of Eels in their most despairing moments for In Times Of Madness and this is one of the more melodic songs on offer. As I say, if you are looking for a high energy album then you’ll have to look elsewhere as the slow Indie Rock of Forty Seconds continues the theme of deep introspection. There’s actually a band performance here, not that I mean they haven’t been a band so far but it’s just that they all come out of the shadows for this. This and More Rain On Vegas are the top tracks on the album. They finish off with Going Surfing and The Beach Boys, this ain’t, not even in Brian Wilson’s darkest days. Like the rest of the album, it doesn’t get out of first gear but the female backing singer is back. Going surfing, might not come back!

If you want to go into your shell then this could be the band you want to take with you and if you like sad tales of insanity, love lost and found, travelling and the beauty of the sea at night then Templo Diez may just be for you. I’m not taking anything away from this deeply personal and introspective album but it will split opinion. I don’t think it’s the kind of album that you’ll return to again and again as it is very intense.