Bob Drake — The Skull Mailbox
(ReR Megacorp CTA9, 2001, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2002-09-01Bob Drake may be a genius, but it is fair to say that, as far as the results of his craft go, he is more than a bit scatterbrained. The Skull Mailbox is chock full of ideas, often more than one for each of these 27 tracks. There are some recurring musical themes to give the work a sense of continuity, and the lyrical themes all center on tales of the bizarre and macabre. But rather than a modern big-budget horror film packed with special effects, spurting blood, and six-channel Dolby digital pummeling, Drake’s tales are more reminiscent of spooky stories told around a campfire – kind of goofy, full of strangeness, and with a little twist at the corner of the mouth. Most of the tracks are built around acoustic guitars, often played with a frenetic fingerpicking style. Onto that foundation, Drake overdubs electric guitars, keyboards, drums, violin, a multitude of voices, and other instruments unlisted. The voices alone provide quite a bit of variety. Drake sings, speaks, and shrieks in a wide variety of tones, both straight and processed, and you’d swear he had help. The whole thing fits together as a more or less seamless single work, albeit one that jumps around stylistically. One of my favorite features is the scratchy electric guitar sounds that show up at unexpected times, providing seemingly random bursts of distortion. While this CD is too jumpy to listen too frequently, it is one of the most original and inventive releases of the year.
Related artist(s): Bob Drake
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Libration. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more