“Picturesque Ruins” is the debut album of German solo artist Black Henbane. It starts off with some rhythmical, pretty sarcastic songs that taste like strong coffee, hand-rolled cigarettes and whisky, whereas the second half will draw you into a more contemplative mood, with tropical fruit, abandoned beaches, sleeping meadows, starry nights, and a thunderstorm brooding over broken hearts and dreaming lovers.
The name Black Henbane refers to a plant which has been used by medieval witches for many purposes, because of its remarkable properties. It is not only beautiful to look at and very poisonous, but also said to have healing, aphrodizing and halluzinogenic effects - all qualities that also make up a good pop song. Black Henbane tries his best to live up to all of these promises.
His prolific creativity thrives on inspiration from five decades of rock, pop and folk history, modern and ancient poetry, and the strangeness of everyday life. Since Black Henbane feels influenced by nearly all of the music he has ever listened to, it is quite difficult to put a definite label on his sound.
Listeners have described it sometimes as magical, dark, and enigmatic, sometimes as cool and sexy, and sometimes as a good sound-track for a Californian sunrise. The imagery of his lyrics has been characterized once as “bleak yet lush”.
If you like catchy melodies, imaginative song writing, raunchy electric, dreamy acoustic, weeping slide and lazy bass guitars, rattling retro drums or exotic percussion, gurgling organs, bizarre psychedelic soundscapes, and an unmistakable voice oscillating somewhere between Leonard Cohen and Ray Davies, then Black Henbane is your man. If you have some taste in lo-fi charme, tinkling piano sounds, doleful mellotron strings and a svelte flute, even more so.
Let Black Henbane abduct you for a trip you won’t regret!