Recently I was watching Luis Bunuel’s Tristana, at home alone ’round about midnight, a film that’s perhaps not immediately recognized as one of his best. Then again, Tristana’s got quite a few things working in its favor: it’s one of just two Bunuel films that star Catherine Deneuve (who gave arguably a better performance here than in the more oft-mentioned Belle de Jour); the story arc’s pretty wicked; and it’s a film that sports a few of those ravishing surrealistic touches that the Spanish filmmaker is known for. And one thing you can always say about Bunuel is that the guy directed each of his 31 films with an untamed heart.
Which brings us to Califone and the mercurial All My Friends Are Funeral Singers, an album that happens to reference Bunuel in a few of the songs. (There is apparently a companion film of the same title.) “Funeral Singers”, a vertiginous mix of shuffling acoustic blues and skulking singalongs, presents a rather intriguing, stripped-down portrait of Califone’s music, a lively anachronism unrepentantly out of step with modern conveniences. The song’s vague lyrical preoccupations, seemingly about disembodied spirits and with Tim Rutili’s vocals sounding uncanny as ever, further place “Funeral Singers” on the map of decidedly strange terrains – where it’s dreamy weather, away from the hiss of suburbia, a mirthful rat-and-tat filling up disused rooms wreathed in narcotic warmth. – keith.
Califone’s All My Friends Are Funeral Singers is available on Dead Oceans.