Black Snake Moan is a Blues-Psych one-man-band.
The man behind the project, Marco Contestabile, is a singer, guitarist and composer, a real artist.
His homeland, the land of ancient Etruscans, is part of a fascinating area permeated of mystery: the cult of the death, the beliefs in the afterlife and supernatural events were interconnected with the daily life.
Sunny hills crossed by trails through canyons in the tufa rocks, labyrinths, complex burials represent ancient communication routes with darkness and light always alternating in the path.
A misty passage that connects the perennial echoes of the old Etruscan visionary heritage to the spiritual Southwestern Indian deserts scenario of The States, apparently static but moving along its mirages.
Let the ceremony begin. In “Phantasmagoria” (no reference to the Damned 1986 album by the same title) the snake moves “thru the rhythm of darkened times” to quote Roky Erickson, almost dancing to a sensuous, hypnotic melody. Many episodes along this sullen, imaginary trip are reminiscent of the early Doors’ Indian raga guitars, the 13th Floor Elevators’s reverberations and the white light echoes of The Velvet Underground. From vintage Sixties sounds in the likes of the Electric Prunes and Ultimate Spinach via a certain ‘80s psych-wave brought by early Southern Death Cult, Opal or even Sister Of Mercy, Black Snake Moan crawls onto the Neo-psychedelic movement build around BJM and The Black Angels. Eventually, “Phantasmagoria” finds its way to look into the “future” as well, exploring space-age-sounds with its one-man-band formula.
In this mystical tilt-a-whirl the sitar drives you to a Middle Eastern journey even in your living room, while, live on stage, BSM’ guitars, tambourine, drums and wall of sitar drones/echoed vocals are perfectly balanced to deliver a heavy experience. A must-see/hear happening drenched in full reverb, the immersion in a psychedelic cocoon, the sort of pool bath that would have left Brian Jones happily relaxed and surely not dead.
If the opening notes of “Lotus” will take you to The ‘Stones “Have You Seen Your mother” for a few seconds and “Lost”’s main riff reminds of The Pretty Things “LSD”, please keep in mind nothing in this album is simply derivative. The music is so original and rich per-se. “Phantasmagoria” reveals many hidden treasures and for those who can read between the lines (better, the notes) vast knowledge of the music of the times, suggesting a more spiritual reading of the acid test, far from the clichéd hippie-drug ’n’ sex decadence.
Side one certainly pushes you deep in the stream of consciousness, stressing on the dark perspective, while the second side of “Phantasmagoria” literally opens to “Daylight” and here’s where you’ll discover a lighter Pop vein, compelling for the dualism of the album, with hints to a certain Americana feel. The Eastern sitar-driven “tomorrows’ parties feel” restarts with “Coral”, hooked to the rocking and hypnotic ”Sweet Lie”, almost a trance Psych danceable number.
The climax though comes at the very end, the end of this night long album, filled with visions and optical illusions, with an ultimate Doorsy feel that permeates one of the album’s most evocative songs, the closing track, “Night Of Stone”.
In just about two-year career Black Snake Moan has already played hundreds of gigs, and while gaining a strong following in Europe, he is getting ready to play in the States in 2020. The team spontaneously gathered around his project is made of active and positive people, labels and agencies that truly believe in ”Phantasmagoria” as a labor of love.
Last but not least even the album’s artwork reflects the music’ mysticism and the psychedelic immersion in and out of time.