The best music seems to manifest out of periods of struggle. If an artist experiences hardship, then a great number of times this negative energy will be used to create something masterful on a sonic level. Brian Christinzio, otherwise known as BC Camplight, is an American songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has managed to create one of the better records of his career through a nightmarish period in his life.
Living in Philadelphia, Christinzio had released two albums while battling a number of demons before an illness rendered him unable to function as a working songwriter. He needed a change and then made the move to Manchester, England, before immigration officials uprooted him from his new life.
Occasional gigs in Europe, where his UK-based band could meet him, broke up the monotony, but it was still like “Living in a constant panic attack”. However, Christinzio then managed to secure Italian citizenship and a route back into the UK, “Despite being American, I feel Mancunian, and I couldn’t think about making another record, until I got back.”
The whole devastating saga is directed into some captivating pieces in Deportation Blues, with his melodical inclinations less frequent than his previous releases, in what is a far more electronic affair than fans will be used to. It’s hard to pin the LP to one genre, with each of the nine bold arrangements emitting something new. Whether it is synth-laden pop, afro-punk or garage rock, the record is a roller coaster of differing vibes that reflect the tumultuous mindset Christinzio was in.
Recorded in Liverpool’s Whitewood studios, Christinzio locked himself in the windowless studio and recorded almost exclusively in the dark. “The thoughts and sounds that began to flow out of me were pretty scary. I’m pretty sure the engineer started carrying a shiv in his pocket after about the second day. Nothing playful sounding came out. If the last album had elements of whimsy, the thought of any on this album made me want to vomit.”
The title-track opener’s power chords, tumbling synths and falsetto turn it into one of the album’s greatest assets, whilst ‘I’m In A Weird Place Now’ wouldn’t fit out of place on a Bruce Springsteen record – only with cleaner production value. “And there’s something about Manchester town/And the silly little things she makes me do,” he says in a record that is brutally honest and on the nose throughout from a lyrical standpoint.
The jazzy ‘Hell or Pennsylvania’ then comes along before the slow burning ‘I’m Desperate’ brings its mesmerising synthetic soundscape which catches your attention with its haunting vocals and throbbing rhythmic core. Meanwhile, ‘When I Think Of My Dog’ and ‘Midnight Ease’, are two gut wrenching ballads, followed by the cinematic ‘Am I Dead Yet?’- one of his more progressive cuts.
With Brexit around the corner and his future again up in smoke, it’s interesting to see what creative direction BC Camplight explores. If it’s anything like Deportation Blues then the listener is in for a gripping ride.