Transangelic Exodus is a new landmark for American singer-songwriter Ezra Furman. "Not a concept record, but almost a novel, or a cluster of stories on a theme, a combination of fiction and a half-true memoir," according to its author. "A personal companion for a paranoid road trip. A queer outlaw saga." The music is as much of an intense, dramatic event, full of brilliant hooks, with an equally evolved approach to recorded sound to match Furman's narrative vision.
"The narrative thread," Furman declares, "is I'm in love with an angel, and a government is after us, and we have to leave home because angels are illegal, as is harbouring angels. The term ‘transangelic' refers to the fact people become angels because they grow wings. The have an operation, and they're transformed. And it causes panic because some people think it's contagious, or it should just be outlawed. The album still works without the back story, though. What's essential is the mood – paranoid, authoritarian, the way certain people are stigmatised. It's a theme in American life right now, and other so-called democracies."
Transangelic Exodus was mostly recorded – as all Furman's records have been since 2011 – at his bandmate (saxophonist/producer) Tim Sandusky's Ballistico Studios in Chicago, and with the other Visions – Jorgen Jorgensen (bass, cello), Ben Joseph (keyboards, guitar) and Sam Durkes (drums, percussion). And just as Furman's band hasn't really changed, his musical DNA remains intact as well – a thrilling, literate form of garage-punk rooted in The Velvet Underground, Jonathan Richman and ‘50s rock 'n' roll.
Crossing between love, gender, sexuality and religion, and singing in solidarity with the innocent, persecuted, oppressed and threatened, Ezra Furman has soundtracked the current fear and loathing across America like no other, while pushing ahead with his own agenda, always on the move.