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Bob Drake - 13 Songs and a Thing CD (album) cover

13 SONGS AND A THING

Bob Drake

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

2.71 | 3 ratings

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ShW1
2 stars Bob Drake is a well known persona from the RIO scene, especially the American one: Mainly a sound engineer, also multi instrumentalist, who finds time to some other activities such as painting and photographing. Since 1994 he's been living in a farm in south France, which I call 'the Mecca of RIO'. Bands and artists make a pilgrimage up there to record and mix their albums. Some key albums of the scene where made right there ('Hungers teeth' and 'Crisis in clay' would be the most significant examples). In addition he creates his own music and albums, all performed and recorded in various rooms at this place as he describes very friendly in his blog. BTW there is an interview with Bob Drake here on PA which is very worth reading, and learning more about his life story and how deeply it is concerned to the RIO scene.

I've been trying this album, because I was willing to impress from his solo work, in order to understand better his significant contribution to the many well known projects he involved in. I choose this album because I admitted that the songs would be a bit longer, better formed and more crafted than his other experimental music. Well, maybe I was wrong.

Indeed, one can notify some utilities such as peculiar sounds, which BD describe and explain very well on the nice booklet, some good vocalization, though too loaded by various effects, weird harmonies, and interesting playing on guitars in some kind of 'highly acid' folk. The problem is that all this good ingredients does not assembled well, so this cake does not go well eventually, and remain halfbacked. Motives appear but not developed, tracks end up before they should be, and there is a general sense of disorder, or even chaos, most of the time. Call me conservative but I believe that some kind of care at the composition level must be taken, include avant, non regular, improvised or free form compositions. Which probably had not done here.

I really tried to dig here some good tracks, or even some memorable tracks, but it hardly worked. There is one good track with fine tune written by Stevan Tickmayer in good arrangement by BD, 'Pechan and Willy'. The first track 'Chase', written by Dominic Frontiere, could be a good one with a better development or structure. The same goes for 'Ten for a Dime' that features a mellotron, with some interesting and frightening atmosphere. Quite impressive one but ends up too soon, before you really could make up your mind about what it was. The rest tracks sounds to my ears as puzzled songs, hard to be caught by. And of course got to be mentioned is the 'a Thing' track, 12 minutes of pure noise. No melody, nor harmony, or even rhythm, nothing but a constant noise and happenstance percussion. I have to confess that I hardly managed to fully listen to this track over one time.

In short, apart from die-hard fans of the scene, that urge to get into each active scene member solo creativity, this album will suit mainly for those who highly interested in sounds, even above music. At least music as I understand this term.

Ah, and the one before last track 'and the Sun' is certainly not an improvisation as written on the booklet. This is a non professional piano player tries to read the score of the 3rd piano etude by Chopin.

ShW1 | 2/5 |

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