366 Songs 061: Black Book

There’s definitely an argument to be made for “Black Book” being the sound of a band who’ve collectively listened to Spiritualized’s Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space having a jam session and forgetting to edit it afterwards, but fuck it, I love this song, all almost-nine-minutes of it, even the almost unlistenable middle section where the jam and Damon Albarn’s “Give you my soul, give you my soul” threaten to overwhelm everything around it like a muso black hole. Maybe it’s the way that the organ grounds all of the guitar wankery, perhaps it’s because the memory of Damon’s vocal performance at the start of the song is so strong that his (surprisingly) deep vocals are enough to sustain you until you get to the coda, or it could be the coda itself, Damon and the gospel choir (The London Community Gospel Choir, I think? I may be misremembering) echoing the “give you my soul” chant but transforming it into something far more peaceful, more beautiful – Literally the calm after the storm. After all, think of how the jam section ends, with the guitar looping, fading out, and the organ reasserting control while an acoustic guitar strums quietly in the background.

The song builds, and subsides, which could be part of its charm. It’s a weather system in itself, the rains coming and then leaving, and everything refreshed afterwards. “Black Book” is a wonderfully cathartic song, if you’re willing to let it be so.

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