Almost like a storyteller in the gothic and horror vibe, Tom Slatter is one of the people to go into the darker realms of the characters who have committed horrible crimes and have an evil background and the skeletons in the closet that they don’t want the listener to know what is inside of them. His third EP, Black Water, tells the tale of Seven Bells John who is one of the characters that was mentioned in his first album, Spinning the Compass and the 10-minute piece, The Steam Engine Murders and the trial of Seven Bells John as well for the murders he had done.
He appeared in about four compositions and with the EP, this is more of a background on John’s history and Slatter himself delivers the evil territories like no other. The opening title track begins with a gothic acid-folk atmosphere along with the pow-pow like percussion with two different time signatures that resembles White Willow and Trees with the eerie folk-like acoustic guitar picking and spooky electric lines as well as if we are going inside the mind of the killer that would send shivers down the listener spines.
Combining the haywire effects which starts and ends as if the instruments were going crazy, the guitars come in with a haunting and sinister vibe as Slatter sings “Don’t you know/I’m hungry still/will I ever have to beg?/To be locked up again/Don’t want to wake up asking where am I again.” The instruments and the flute-like mellotron comes in with a soaring sound, the intensity is right at you with the doomy-psychedelic nightmarish feel as if someone in the woods is ready to attack on Nightfall.
The mellotron comes in handy on the moody, Moon in the Water. It has this warmth yet touching late ‘60s psychedelic beauty as Tom sings very relaxing and yet mourning on where the character will do next as he looks at his reflection to feel free. At times, the song has this gentle touching homage to Barclay James Harvest’s Once Again-era and Slatter takes it into almost as if he was a folk hero of the 19th century and singing this at a sermon to a wonderful reception.
Closer, Ghosts in my Dreams, has this dark score as if Tom Slatter was writing, composing an episode and a story for Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. You could tell that Tom takes it to a darker area and its very much psychological and the moment Seven Bells John is about to do the unthinkable that would make him the word around town. The keyboard, guitar, and drums passage is very creative and inventive from Slatter’s mind and he creates this dystopian-sque composition for both the intro and outro to pay homage to Serling.
Tom Slatter’s music can be hard to get into, but he knows his influences of stories and influential backgrounds very well. As I’ve mentioned on the final composition, I can imagine Rod Serling has given the torch to Tom Slatter and for him by writing his own stories to capture and staying true to the late 1950s TV series of The Twilight Zone. What I hope that Slatter does, maybe in the future, is to make a Graphic Novel of the complete story and along with the music telling everything from start to finish.