Boduf Songs: Lion Devours the Sun

A decade ago, Nick Cave released an album whose title perfectly captures the brooding ambiance of Mat Sweet's second Boduf Songs disc: Murder Ballads. Not that Lion Devours the Sun (the title derived from alchemical imagery with the sun symbolizing consciousness and the lion emotion) exudes anything as obvious as overt violence; instead, the bluesy collection generates the kind of insomniac tension that finds one tracing a blade along one's wrist at 3 a.m., undecided as to what might happen next. Recording the material at home on a 4-track machine and supporting his spellbinding murmur with little more than an acoustic guitar (an e-bowed autoharp and, apparently, a cymbal-playing monkey, homemade gramophone, and ‘daggers' are deployed too), Sweet's disturbing odes cast spells that transfix from their first moments and remain in place until their final notes fade. The following couplet from “27 th Raven's Head (Darkness Showing Through the Head of the Raven)” conveys the generally bleak lyrical disposition: “Good day to give away and embrace the enemy / With broad arms to wrap around, draw in, and suffocate.” The funereal closer “Bell for Harness” lurches so slowly it seems poised to expire at any moment yet still succeeds in casting the album's most haunting spell, due in no small part to the “Here's your lost lonely drive” mantra that repeats throughout the song's glorious coda. Lion Devours the Sun proves once again that the most powerful music often comes using the simplest of means.

November 2006