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Record Review


Black Heart Procession's career to this point has been defined by shadow. The group's first three records -- fittingly titled 1, 2 and Three -- are of a piece with the Cure's Seventeen Seconds and Faith -- relentlessly chilly ruminations on mortality spiked with hollow vocals and echo-drenched instrumentation. The enterprise paid off because the players never once broke character.

Likely fearing artistic stagnation, the group turns on a few lights with Amore Del Tropico -- the kind of lights shaped like chili peppers. Amore finds the group dabbling in Latin music and Tropicalia, for an end result that reads like Tom Waits drunk on Applebee's margaritas. The enterprise feels oddly forced, and while it manages some fascinating moments (particularly "Tropics of Love"), it can't equal the sustained feeling of dread and mystery the group once conjured so effortlessly.

Far more effective is the riveting This Night, by Canadian outfit Destroyer. A spartan masterpiece that moves from chorus to euphoric chorus like a ghost passing between tombstones, This Night is the perfect example of minimalism yielding epiphany.

The songs are so rickety they seem constantly on the verge of collapse, the spindly guitars barely able to support Dan Bejar's desperate, adenoidal voice. The record gestures toward grandiosity with big mezzo-forte choruses and wailing background vocals. But because it uses minimal instrumentation, the effect is beautifully blunted. This Night imbues a few jangling guitars and one croaking voice with all the depth and scope of DeMille.

Black Heart Procession and Destroyer play the Echo Lounge Mon., Nov. 4.

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