Stranger Revivals: On Three Mile Pilot

Posted by Tobias Carroll

Friends of mile who came of age in Southern California talk about Three Mile Pilot in reverent terms. For me, the route to the band was a more roundabout one: I received a copy of their 1997 album Another Desert, Another Sea for review for the zine I was editing at the time and handed it off to someone with more familiarity with the group. I ended up picking the album back up after hearing Pinback and the Black Heart Procession, the two bands that arose most directly from Three Mile Pilot’s hiatus late last decade.

Three Mile Pilot have been more on my mind lately because their have a new album due out soon, titled The Inevitable Past is the Future Forgotten. (I’ve talked a little bit about the album already for Flavorwire as well.) It is, thankfully, a return rather than a reunion; the new songs on this album don’t merely repeat the patterns established by Another Desert. There’s a steadiness to these songs that recalls Pinback’s entire discography, and a more complex emotional spectrum to Pall Jenkins’s vocals that hits a different space than his work in the Black Heart Procession. It’s a good reminder of why this band is, in fact, beloved by some, and of how potent Jenkins and Armistead Burwell Smith IV are when working in tandem. (Though, in a few cases, the stylistic lines between its members’ current projects turn thin. “The Premonition” in particular, with its refrain of “I miss the sun,” would not be out of place on just about anything released by The Black Heart Procession.)

It’s also interesting to see Jenkins following closely on the heels of this album with a new Black Heart Procession release, this one bearing the absurd yet sinister title Blood Bunny/Black Rabbit. That it includes remixes from both Eluvium and Lee “Scratch” Perry — neither of whom is exactly the first artist that comes to mind when thinking of possible BHP collaborators — suggests that his return to one group’s predecessor might lead to more significant stylistic shifts in the other.