As cliché and dry most motivational phrases are, “you gotta take a chance” holds, especially in Nicole Izobel Garcia’s story. In 2014, the L..A-based musician reached out in cold calling fashion to a mutual acquaintance of hers visiting from Switzerland. The reach-out was intended to pitch herself for a live performance collaboration between her and the foreign artist in a local bar, the idea initially being for a one-off set.
Seven years later, that act of faith has carried her across Europe, and more recently, the United States alongside Reverend Beat-Man. They’ve played remote cities like Tootlesville, OH and large stages such as the Azkena Rock Festival in Spain. Their production carries the vibe of a backwoods, lowbrow, holy roller duo either saving you from the vices of life or enabling its indulgences. To understand it, you have to see it for yourself.
For those who haven’t yet, imagine an eccentric, heavy-blues-playing, Swiss priest screaming lyrics of hellfire, the Lord, salvation, and other facets of sin in Swiss, German, and English while a stoic Angeleno nun blares Farfisa riffs over the crowd. A one-man-band-style, two-piece, minimalistic effort that’s wildly engaging and enthralls the outlier personalities who travel to witness this experience. These two have been doing this as a unit for a while now, and between recording sessions in Italy, Switzerland, and Los Angeles, they mark their debut together with Baile Bruja Muerto.
This album’s no different from the rest of the Reverend’s catalog in that you must expect the unexpected. Let’s start with the reworked covers they play; how often does a stripped-down, gravel-throated, and considerably slowed rendition of Venom’s “Black Metal” make its way to our ears?
Not even Cronos (Venom’s frontman) himself could fathom such a thing! That’s the point though; they’re not copying anything and making each cover their own thing. Be authentic in tribute; it’s one of the more honest things any artist can do to pay homage to those before them. Tag that same description on doom metal, echoing a graveyard rendition of “Love Me Two Times” from The Doors as well.
However, those two are more focused on Beat-Man himself as the lead man. Izobel Garcia makes a strong statement in her recording debut with a sultry channeling of Chavela Vargas’s ranchera atmosphere on “Macorina,” which shows her confidence and prowess as a vocalist.
The two take on a few tracks from Beat-Man’s back catalog along with showcasing their original work together. “Come Back Lord” is a staple in their live set originally released in 2001 during the Reverend Beat-Man & The Unbelievers era. The new version swaps the original’s rockabilly vibe with a lo-fi, garage rock feel dominated by keys and with new lyrics.
Izobel Garcia contributes two of her tracks to this record with “I Never Told You” and “Nerviosa.” The former being one of the standouts on Baile Bruja Muerto, it’s Krautrock meets heavy blues mix but more importantly shows how well these two work as a unit and bounce off each other’s improvisations. As a one-man band, you’re trusting yourself to hit all angles accurately. This album shows how much Beat-Man trusts Izobel Garcia to act as a function of his brain and pull off what he’s been doing by himself for most of his life.