Evangelista: Hello, Voyager

Sean Padilla

With the help of her new band Evangelista, sonic nomad Carla Bozulich releases a diverse album that ranks among her best. Fire and brimstone has rarely sounded this good!


Hello, Voyager

Label: Constellation
US Release Date: 2008-03-11
UK Release Date: 2008-02-25

If there was ever an album that I’d recommend listening to in reverse order, it would be this one. "Hello, Voyager", the 12-minute title track that closes Evangelista’s debut album, is the band’s longest and best song. It ties up the previous songs’ musical and thematic strands so neatly that its exclusion would reduce the album to a glorified mix CD.

It begins with front woman Carla Bozulich shouting visions of "rubble and blood," exhorting us to realize that "we are all the same," that we’re all guilty of "things I don’t think normal people do." Like any good evangelist, though, Bozulich knows to follow her words of condemnation with words of salvation. "When all hope is gone," she concludes, "there’s only one thing left --- love!" As her tremulous testimony intensifies, her backing musicians play the role of congregation: they shout key words back at her, and punctuate them with arrhythmic thwacks and staccato chords. By the time the band finally harnesses its improvised clatter, I feel like I’m truly at church -- one in which Romanticism has replaced Christianity, the saints have morphed into savages, and Carla is their anointed prophet. Still, I’ve already read reviews that unjustly dismiss the song as self-indulgent nonsense. Needless to say, I disagree!

Hello, Voyager is musically scattershot, hopping from grating grunge ("Truth Is Dark Like Outer Space", the ironically named "Smooth Jazz") to wistful ballads ("The Blue Room", "Paper Kitten Claw") and orchestral pieces (the sublime "For the Li’l Dudes"). Then, there’s the inexplicable track "The Frozen Dress". Bozulich's detuned guitars and disembodied voices make that song sound like Sonic Youth’s "Lee Is Free" reinterpreted by a satanic choir. Although each song works, thanks in no small part to Bozulich’s supporting musicians (many of whom play in Thee Silver Mt. Zion --- no strangers themselves to gorgeous gloom), only the title track fuses all of her ideas into a cohesive whole.

Even Bozulich’s list of "things I don’t think normal people do" can be traced back to the protagonists of the album’s previous songs. When she shouts, "This is me with a blade in my hand," I think of the 13-year-old girl on "Lucky Lucky Luck" who cuts herself. When she wails, "This is me loving someone I’m not supposed to love," I think of the woman on "The Blue Room" who holds on too tightly to the memories of her dead lover. When she sneers, "This is me selling you out when you needed me most," I think of the moment on "Truth Is Dark Like Outer Space" when she sings, "The truth is they lied, so we shut ‘em off like a light."

It’s oddly fitting that Hello, Voyager’s final track is its best entry point. The album itself serves as a great entry point for Bozulich’s sprawling back catalog. Over the last 15 years, she has dabbled in everything from industrial music (Ethyl Meatplow) to noisy rock (the Geraldine Fibbers) to straightforward country (she once covered a Willie Nelson album in its entirety). None of these projects moved me enough on first listen to warrant giving them a second. Hello, Voyager, however, has changed that: its diversity, boldness and overall quality has compelled me to delve into her past work with fresh, enthusiastic ears. I’ll gladly follow her on her next voyage. Let the church say amen!





Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".


On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.


The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 1, Gang of Four to the Birthday Party

If we must #quarantine, at least give us some post-punk. This week we are revisiting the best post-punk albums of all-time and we kick things off with Gang of Four, Public Image Ltd., Throbbing Gristle, and more.


Alison Chesley Toils in Human and Musical Connectivity on Helen Money's 'Atomic'

Chicago-based cellist, Alison Chesley (a.k.a. Helen Money) creates an utterly riveting listen from beginning to end on Atomic.


That Kid's 'Crush' Is a Glittering Crossroads for E-Boy Music

That Kid's Crush stands out for its immediacy as a collection of light-hearted party music, but the project struggles with facelessness.


Percival Everett's ​​​'Telephone​​​' Offers a Timely Lesson

Telephone provides a case study of a family dynamic shaken by illness, what can be controlled, and what must be accepted.


Dream Pop's Ellis Wants to be 'Born Again'

Ellis' unhappiness serves as armor to protect her from despair on Born Again. It's better to be dejected than psychotic.


Counterbalance No. 10: 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols'

The Spirit of ’77 abounds as Sex Pistols round out the Top Ten on the Big List. Counterbalance take a cheap holiday in other people’s misery. Right. Now.


'Thor: Ragnorak' Destroys and Discards the Thor Mythos

Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok takes a refreshingly iconoclastic approach to Thor, throwing out the old, bringing in the new, and packaging the story in a colourful, gorgeously trashy aesthetic that perfectly captures the spirit of the comics.


Alps 2 and Harry No Release Eclectic Single "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" (premiere)

Alps 2 and Harry NoSong's "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" is a dizzying mix of mangled 2-step rhythms and woozy tranquil electronics.


Kathleen Grace and Larry Goldings Team for Wonderfully Sparse "Where Or When" (premiere)

Kathleen Grace and Larry Goldings' "Where Or When" is a wonderfully understated performance that walks the line between pop and jazz.


Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.


New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.


Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.


Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.


New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.


'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.


Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.


Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.


M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Collapse Expand Reviews
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.