Last year, it was with the magnificent pairing of Lord Buffalo and Palehorse/Palerider that Desert Records released the first of their “Legends of the Desert” split series. By far, it was one of the most engaging collaborations of its kind that I still deeply regret not getting my hands on in its wax form, for the material held within felt no less than godly. It was a pitch perfect performance for a desert backdrop the likes of which we truly need more of while the deserts continue to provide throngs of artists with infinite inspiration. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for the second edition of “Legends of the Desert” to come around, and it’s yet again that we are given a terrific pairing of bands that results in a work that’s the definition of expansive.
Before we even heard a single note from what this album has to offer, that cover art fucking rocks! It captures so much what this series is becoming synonymous with while at the same time providing a fantasy-like flair that is done perfectly for a collaboration like this. Both The Penitent Man and Cortége bring fantastic performances in each of their contributions that, much like “Volume 1”, provide us with material that transforms our concept of what kind of setting the desert can be as both of these acts both play into the tropes while breaking new ground. Between the first three tracks, The Penitent Man uses their time in the spotlight to provide us with backdrops of a rustic town in a perpetual sunset that has boatloads of personality that we see explored brilliantly throughout “A Long Deep Breath of Sadness” and “The Butcher”. They’re both commanded by riffs and fantastic soul that is all but irresistible to fall into as The Penitent Man is at the top of their game in this effort. But, it’s in the track “Rest My Weary Head” that flows seamlessly into Cortége’s following song of the very same name that creates a cohesive performance that is truly the shining jewel of this volume. It is wreathed with a melancholic atmosphere and compelling musicianship that is dripping from every note as well as a tasteful appearance from Todd Ogren from Rival Sons that gels beautifully with the performance at large, and then it’s halfway through that Cortége gets their turn with their atmospheric instrumental performance of desert drone that, much like their other material, just isn’t quite like any other band that I’ve heard anywhere else. It’s in their allotted 19 minutes that the expanse of the sun-baked dirt is laid out before our eyes as Cortége brings a unique grandeur to it all that feels as those we’re flying towards the sun itself, one with the desert in a way that only the spirits can truly understand. Enhanced by a gripping trumpet and silent storytelling, we couldn’t have a more fitting, cinematic, or even climatic ending than what Cortége has presented us with here to enable “Volume 2” to close just as spectacularly as it started.
Along with Ripple Music’s “Turned To Stone” splits series and the PostWax collections from Blues Funeral Recordings, it is Desert Records with “Legends of the Desert” that is carving new soundscapes out in this massively expansive, talented, and popular scene that grows so much every single week, and it’s with the second volume of “Legends of the Desert” that we see this concept done yet again to a true glory with it being the first out of those three series to release anything in 2021 and I don’t think I could’ve asked for a better start! The Penitent Man and Cortége pulled none of their punches for any moment of this release, and I knew it was upon the announcement of this release that we were in for something special right away. It doesn’t happen often, but I’m absolutely ecstatic to be right!
“Legends of the Desert: Volume 2” releases on June 4th via Desert Records!
LISTEN to an advanced track from “Legends of the Desert: Volume 2” on Bandcamp here.
LIKE The Penitent Man on Facebook here.
LIKE Cortége on Facebook here.