How is it possible that Doctor Gasp, Dan Blakeslee’s Halloween-loving alter ego, hasn’t put out an album in 10 years? Luckily, New England’s patron saint of the macabre rectifies that with Vampire Fish for Two, a nine-song piece of art, from the screen-printed sleeve to Blakeslee’s immaculate vocal performance.
The good Doctor is insidious with his whispers, sometimes sort of legitimately scary, and whatever vibe he tapped into by recording in an 1800s farmhouse onto four-track tape completely worked. The combination of hurdy-gurdy organ, ghostly piano, twanging banjo, and, especially, Ben Aleshire’s squawking trumpet results in a sound that’s straight out of ancient New Orleans, dark and crazed, but a hell of a lot of fun.
And then there’s “Hip Hop,” which is worth it just for a Beastie Boys-style delivery of “way down in the land where gumbo is king/There is a beast called swamp thing/He’s a hopping on the mic and chilling with the ladies/Rapping along like Run-DMC in the ’80s.” Yeah, it’s the silliest thing I’ve heard in a long time, but Blakeslee does his own scratching and there are plenty of local rappers who’d line up for that bed of acoustically derived beats.
Halloween party? Yes, buy this for that. But this is a must-have for anyone who enjoys roots music or dark jazz with a flair for drama.
Vampire Fish for Two | Released by Doctor Gasp | doctorgasp.bandcamp.com