THOMAS NÖLA & THE BLACK HOLE “Future Illusions” C60 (Disques de Lapin / Eskimo Films)

In this era of me liking Orville Peck a lot, Thomas Nöla & the Black Hole fill some sort of … void? … with Future Illusions (among many other releases), a showcase for Nöla’s syrupy baritone. But instead of hewing toward the country end of the spectrum, Nöla hangs out with the indie/synth downtrodden, at the smoky urban clubs dives with low light and solitary drinkers. There they spin tales of remorse and regret, while the people they wish they were pass by on the streets outside. No wonder the cover of the tape features a hammer-smashed frame containing an image of Nöla – all that remorse and regret surely got to him enough that he couldn’t even stand to look at himself!

I’d never let it get that bad.

But Future Illusions is an engaging novel of a recorded release, with Nöla’s hangdog Matt Berninger impression lending appropriate gravitas to each tragic tale of innocence lost. It’s buoyed by synthesizers, acoustic guitar, and spare percussion, and regardless of the arm’s length he tries to keep others from himself, Nöla compels you deeper into his hang-ups and anxieties, his fetishes and fears. It’s a detailed account of navigating mistakes and making mistakes while navigating them. It’s an RIYL beacon for all you Orville and National fans out there.

It’s also seven years old – there’s so much more Thomas Nöla & the Black Hole music now than there was in 2013!