Mikelangelo & The Black Sea Gentlemen: After The Flood


Mikelangelo & The Black Sea Gentlemen are a gloriously dramatic unit of talented individuals, and long-time listeners of the band will be rapt by what's on offer in their latest album, After The Flood. Known for telling theatrical tales of past eras and their jaunty take on traditional folk, this record sees the band amplifying existing personas and adding to their already huge pool of stories about toiling for a better life.
After The Flood is based on the plight of the European migrants who slaved away on the Snowy Mountains Scheme in the '50s. It's a respectful tribute to people who found beauty and whimsy amidst the daily grind, but it's also daringly fun. Although the narratives are the chief focus, After The Flood is rooted in incredible musicianship. Various European styles (Irish, German and Italian, to name a few) synchronise to create a cheekily sinister vibe, not unlike the works of Tom Waits by way of Captain Matchbox.
Mikelangelo has a bold, commanding voice that keeps you focused on each distinctly enunciated syllable. The Black Sea Gentlemen – Rufino, Little Ivan, The Great Muldavio and Guido – all contribute their own oddball tales, and their strange vocal stylings add to the album’s eclectic nature.
Even at its most melancholic, this is an album about hope in the face of overwhelming odds. Each track captures the frantic escapism of the working class world within the grim context of a land on the scorched end of a world war. Although we may be back digging trenches in the morning, this night is forever ours, and it's one thing this cruel universe can't take from us.
In keeping with the traditionalist nature of the album, it doesn't really experiment with any new forms, but it does what it knows very well. Besides, there's more than enough adventure infused within the stories themselves. Ultimately, After The Flood represents the characters that dwell within it – a clash of quirky elements stitched together into a beautiful patchwork quilt against a harsh landscape.