Is there a curse that says Brian ‘BC Camplight’ Christinzio cannot move forward without being knocked back? That the greatest material is born out of emotional trauma?
Whilst making his new album The Last Rotation Of Earth, Christinzio’s relationship with his fiancé crumbled after nine inseparable years. The album follows this break-up amid long-term struggles with addiction and declining mental health.
The outcome is an extraordinary record, with Christinzio describing it as “more cinematic, sophisticated and nuanced than anything I’ve done before.” He goes on to describe how the separation altered his creative focus and caused him to “scrap 95% of what I’d already recorded”, finishingThe Last Rotation Of Earth in two months and making what he believes to his most vital album.
That Christinzio has bettered his previous album is an achievement, given that Shortly After Takeoff received the best reviews of his life. “A masterpiece,” said The Guardian’s 5 star review, “a half hour or so that roils with anxiety, stuns with beauty and, occasionally, provokes laughter.” Even then, fate intervened when the album was released in April 2020, just as Covid and lockdown kicked in, so he was unable to tour the record until late 2021.
Talk about tempting fate. But it’s true to say that Christinzio has made his best music under immense duress, andThe Last Rotation Of Earth is an inimitable work; a heady, heavy slice of lustrous hooks, moods bursting with classical sophistication and fractured paranoia.
Christinzio’s world-class live shows are an exhilarating, phrenetic and exhausting experience for both performer and audience. Headlining Bella Union’s 25th birthday show in November 2022, he pulled a couch on to the stage, as a prop to reinforce the idea of music and performance-as-therapy; his between-songs patter is equally charged and self-deprecating. The dynamic of light and shade also impacts the music.
So, what does lie ahead? And can Christinzio ever trust the future? When he began releasing records in 2005, backed by members who would eventually join The War On Drugs, and guest-starring on Sharon Van Etten’s Epic album, the future looked bright. “But if I’d stayed,” he once mused, “I’d be dead. Period.”
So Christinzio took a friend’s advice to escape his alcohol and drug addictions in Philly and move to Manchester, leading to his debut album for Bella Union,How To Die In The North; though just two days before it was released in 2014, he was deported .
Back in the UK (with an Italian passport), he made Deportation Blues but just days before it was released in 2016, his father died, triggering a breakdown that inspired Shortly After Takeoff, the last part of what Christinzio calls his Manchester Trilogy.
So, he must begin again; new album, newly single, clean slate. And without tempting fate again, before the last rotation of earth, BC Camplight and his band will tourThe Last Rotation Of Earth, including his biggest headline shows to date, at London Shepherd’s Bush Empire and Manchester’s Albert Hall. “It’s wonderful to realise the songs in front of that many people,” says Christinzio, “I know I’m never going to be Coldplay, but ten years ago, I was certain I wouldn’t make music again.”
Ten years later Christinzio is still making important music, still channelling the forces that have beleaguered him and making the most honest and candid work he can, because anything else wouldn’t be BC Camplight.
Doors 7.30pm | Mostly Standing