Some bands arrive on the scene, fully-formed and hitting the ground running, but Lord Buffalo was not one of those bands. While their self-titled EP and LP showed the vision, it seemed to be one of an aimless void, with plenty of space but not much direction. A melancholy miasma, but not much more: a space for interesting ideas that just seemed to meander for the running time as backing while waiting for the words to finish. An interesting aside to the dark country scene before we returned back to our 16 Horsepower and Jonny Cash records. So it's with some rapture we find 'Tohu Wa Bohu' is much more focused record and somewhat of an early renaissance for the Lone Star state ensemble.
Named after the phrase in Genesis describing the formless state of the world before the creation of light, their second album kicks off with the haunting violin-led narrative of 'Raziel' paired with a descending chord string stroke that's so unbelievably tense that when the galloping wall of noise breaks through, it comes as a relief. And the first indicator that the lonely psychedelic drone atmosphere they had going on is lonely no more, for it is now firmly hand in hand with incredible uptake in songwriting nous. The haunting influence of Nick Cave echoes through 'Wild Hunt' and 'Dog Head', and flowing the Australian's take on the mournful American songbook back through the Austinites' austere aesthetic is a fascinating listening experience. Closing out the album is the pairing of 'Kenosis' like a restless dream before dawn after fretting all night, and the title track's final implorement of “come show me how to see” and mournful choir of the damned drawing you ever further toward the lonely end.
But this won't be the end for Lord Buffalo, hopefully. With hindsight, they already laid the solid groundwork for this album with the rich psychedelic brooding and contemplative nature. But 'Tohu Wa Bohu's rich songwriting, of fiddles holding their own against the resonating guitar and hypnotic drumming all weaving in and around each other, is the heavenly light that puts their previous material in the shade and lights up their form to all the earth.
'Tohu Wa Bohu' is out now on Blues Funeral Recordings