There are those who would argue that George Dubya and his goons are the Devil himself, but on hearing THE URBAN VOODOO MACHINE, maybe we should reconsider. "Sounds From The Urban Voodoo Machine" is their first, full-blooded, Diablo-infused EP and it makes a strong case for Old Nick being alive and well and plugged into a mixing desk in a dingy Hackney Studio where this scarily stylish collective put this four-track effort (actually it's five, but we'll come to that) together.
Led by the splendidly-named Paul-Ronney Angel, UVM are the real deal. Their gigs often feature fire-eaters and strippers, but even without the distractions, their songs are entirely fascinating, usually fatalistic slabs of potent, underworld blues, with vivid, visceral lyrics and definite nods to King Ink himself, Nick Cave.
Featuring violin, upright bass and a whole lotta weird percussion instruments replacing a traditional drum kit (washboards, Turkish drums, floor toms and chains enter the equation along the way), UVM have anything but a trad rock set up, but with Angel's own stinging guitar contributions and the band's fervency in setting up fantastic soundworlds, you can't really go wrong.
Grippingly sleazy 'murder ballad' "Orphan's Lament" slashes our face with the killer lines "My Father was a sailor, my Mother was a whore, and me I was the accident made when he came ashore" by way of an introduction and straight away you know you're onto something good. The fact the narrative goes on to include random killings and Angel's subject heading off to join the circus and while being set to a tune roughly equal parts Bertholt Brecht and Bad Seeds hardly hurts either.
Second track, 'gypsy stomp' "The Real Criminals" immediately proves it's no fluke. A punked-up balalaika with ace, wailing harmonica and mainlined shots of Bo Diddley and The Gun Club, it finds someone called Jesus Las Vegas adding descriptive feedback guitar and Barney Hollington's snaky violin slithering all over the plot. Shivery and superb.
"Devil On A String," meanwhile, finds scary, farty fuzz bass levering up a filthy blues akin to The Birthday Party circa "Junkyard". This time sub-titled 'satanic blues', they ain't jokin', either, as Angel snarls "I've got Mr.Lucifer here lookin' after me"
before going on to breathe noxious firewater fumes all over the soddin' shop. Thankfully, he's bequeathing UVM some of his tunes an' all.
"Emptiness" ('suicide lullaby')allegedly closes the EP, with a potent Mexican/ Morricone kinda feel, with a vocal from Angel that would even have sent a chill up Jeffrey Lee Pierce's spine back in the day. Descriptive, delicious and bloody poretentous, it actually paves the way for an untitled fifth track, which is a finger-clickin' '50s-style rocker, with shades of both Link Wray and Gene Vincent peering through when it removes its' shades. Groovy, stripped-down and as good as anything Liam Watson knocks out, it has Angel singing "You got me by the balls" in a particularly credible fashion.
So who the hell are Urban Voodoo Machine? Oblivion only knows, but one thing's for sure: with "Sounds From The Urban Voodoo Machine" they don't need the friggin' crossroads - they've got the Devil tied up in their basement are are giving him the matches under the toes routine.