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Bob Drake


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5 stars Here it is, folks. Bob Drake's magnum opus. This is the big one - one of the greatest albums ever recorded. It belongs on everyone's shelf, and in everyone's mind.

52 vignettes - songs of Lovecraftian horror - bizzaro instrumental shorts - all held together by a "conceptual thread." The album is a journey through "The Shunned Country" itself - essentially the European version of Lovecraft country. You know the place - abandoned farmhouses, eldritch evils, suggestions of supernatural occurrences, the works. Come on down!

The music, for the most part, is very original avant-garde psuedo-hillbilly rock with masterful experimental production. There is lots of banjo; there is lots of wheezy pump-organ. The percussion is often literal junk. There are copious amounts of dissonance and constantly shifting meters, but the overall impression is that of twisted folk music. Anyone can enjoy this album - it's not just for avant-rock fans; anyone that loves Halloween or Lovecraft could easily get into this; it's all quite catchy.

Some highlights:

"Puppy" could be a beautiful folk song. Until the beat turns backwards, the vocals are sucked into an unmentionable abyss, and the little puppy of the title becomes rather demonic.

"They All Told Him Not to Plow that Certain Field" begins with a catchy riff in 11/8, and finishes with a lengthy spoken-word monologue in which an unfathomable evil visits a farmer's home, resulting in abandonment.

"The Sun Slants Strangely" begins like a Simon & Garfield played at double-speed, recorded in a dead garden on a fall evening. Suddenly, the production value shifts immensely to bring us Yes-like harmonies in one final chorus. It is 30 seconds long.

"The Cruncher in Semi-Darkness" scares the crap out of me. Don't listen to it at night - you won't sleep.

"Splishing" is an incredible instrumental that moves through 7 distinct moods in 50 seconds.

"Kaziah's Pet" is the greatest. It's a pop song for the new century. There is nothing better than pump organ played with fists.

But really, every single track is extraordinary. Buy this now, for all that is holy.

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Posted Thursday, July 7, 2011 | Review Permalink

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