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Bob Drake biography
Robert Drake - Born 1957-12-06 (Cleveland, Ohio, USA)

BOB DRAKE is a veteran of many notable RIO/Avant-rock acts; a founding member of THINKING PLAGUE and comprising one third of the trio that was 5UU'S classic middle period, DRAKE is a central and recurring figure in modern experimental rock music. DRAKE's talents as a solo artist also appear to be limitless; his bass guitar often recalls the ability and sound of Chris SQUIRE, his guitar and banjo playing brings to mind the fast-picking bluegrass-tinged virtuosity of Steve HOWE, and his voice (often overdubbed into complex harmonies) bares a striking resemblance to that of Jon ANDERSON. Although I've just made him sound like a one-man YES, that really does not sum up his style at all: rather, imagine the talents of YES applied to darker, sillier, and generally more complex music. Then throw in the fact that DRAKE is also an excellent violinist and drummer that, additionally, plays keyboards and records, produces, mixes, and engineers his own albums, and you're starting to get the picture. Did I mention that his production style is exceptionally masterful and recognizable as well? In fact, DRAKE's amazing ear has been utilized to mix many albums by other artists (avant and otherwise) over the years.

But don't take my word for it; listen for yourself: check out the samples at - if you were intrigued by my description, you shall not be disappointed by the music.

Bio written by Dex F. (penguindf12)

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Skull MailboxSkull Mailbox
Recommended Records 2002
$18.56 (used)
L'isola Dei LupiL'isola Dei Lupi
Rer Megacorp 2018
$16.74 (used)
Lawn OrnamentsLawn Ornaments
Rer Megacorp 2014
$16.04 (used)
Arx PilosaArx Pilosa
Rer Megacorp 2016
$16.77 (used)
Shunned CountryShunned Country
Rer USA 2005
$9.98 (used)
Box set
Rer Megacorp 2017

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BOB DRAKE discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

BOB DRAKE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.03 | 10 ratings
What Day Is It ?
3.21 | 5 ratings
Little Black Train
3.98 | 9 ratings
Medallion Animal Carpet
4.04 | 6 ratings
The Skull Mailbox And Other Horrors
2.82 | 5 ratings
13 Songs And A Thing
4.84 | 6 ratings
The Shunned Country
4.00 | 4 ratings
Bob's Drive-In
5.00 | 2 ratings
Lawn Ornaments
5.00 | 1 ratings
Arx Pilosa
0.00 | 0 ratings
l'Isola Dei Lupi
4.05 | 3 ratings
The Gardens of Beastley Manor

BOB DRAKE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Bob Drake and The Quonset Hut Philharmonic

BOB DRAKE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

BOB DRAKE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Things from Bob Drake's Audio Archives Volume I

BOB DRAKE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Gardens of Beastley Manor by DRAKE, BOB album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.05 | 3 ratings

The Gardens of Beastley Manor
Bob Drake RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

4 stars Bob Drake is a RIO/Avant Prog artist from Cleveland, Ohio. He is a multi-instrumentalist, and has been active in the experimental music scene for quite some time. He released his first solo album in 1994 and in September of 2019, released his 11th album known as "The Gardens of Beastley Manor". He plays all of the instruments on this 22 track album with only one exception on track 19 ("A Secret Was Always Provided, Part II") where guest Mark Lockett plays the cello. The album is full of short pieces which is apparent knowing the total run-time is just over 37 minutes. The entire album was recorded at his home in France.

You know you are in for an interesting ride when the music starts with a banjo, and then woodwinds and several other strange and interesting instruments start coming in as he uses a 20th Century style of classical composition utilizing contrasting modes and melodic lines to compliment and clash with each other. The music is playful, as in "Rococo Raccon and the Heavy Décor" where instruments chase each other around as they share the chaotic melody, or strangely odd yet catchy as in "Terminal Vista" which suddenly gets mysterious and minimalist only to end in a short burst of chaos.

It would be tough to try to analyze each of these unique and odd songs, but you can imagine some of the scenes the titles suggest from the contemporary composing style that he uses, and the cool array of instruments that he incorporates into the music to give you the textures for each song. Also, each little piece portrays that scene quite well, and using your imagination, you will feel like you are sitting on a bench in the garden watching all of these scenes take place. All of the tracks, except one, are less than 3 minutes, but they are each sufficient to portray the scenes they are representing. All you need basically, is your imagination and the titles to the tracks, and you are set. Or, if you choose just to sit and listen to the music, you will recognize the fact that you are listening to an accomplished composer and musician. The complicated music can be rather obviously complex as in "Thence an Inclined Path" which utilizes piano, banjo, violin, drums, electric guitar and more, each with it's own important statement to make, and this is what you will get throughout. Every sound and note is placed in each track for a reason, and each listen will make new things apparent.

If you don't like the impressionistic style, then this music will not be for you. Even though he uses mostly contemporary rock ensemble instruments, this music sounds like classical music but with a more modern and dissonant approach, In other words, the 20th Century style. However, if you love the unpredictable and experimental sound of RIO and Avant Prog, then this is for you. Lovers of Frank Zappa's classical style will enjoy this, however the music is a bit less busy and maybe more thematic than Zappa's compositional style.

 Medallion Animal Carpet by DRAKE, BOB album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.98 | 9 ratings

Medallion Animal Carpet
Bob Drake RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

4 stars Oddball RIO/Prog music with Bob handling almost all the instruments and vocals. Bob was a founding member of Thinking Plague, but from the mid 90s onward has winged it alone in a good solo career. Some of this album (Part One) sounds like a cross between Yes and Captain Beefheart. Most of the lyrics in this part were created by a random word generator program. (for real). The general mood is that of chaos - massed sounds and voices colliding with each other, but in a rhythmic, ultimately musical fashion. Rhythmic tracks are high in the mix, as are the voices. Various guitar, bass and keyboard sounds fill in the rest.

Towards the end, there's a stretch of old time/hootenanny standards purposely recorded in bootleg-quality; sounds really otherworldly, like someone held a microphone outside of a barn dance in 1920.

Drake has a truly unique way of making music - very intuitive, as if he dreams up the sounds in his head and then uses his recording expertise to match those sounds on a recording. For him, composition of music seems to have little to do with writing notes on paper. Rather, as a self-contained unit, he relies solely on his own instincts, creating unique pieces and albums that feel like nothing less than the audio equivalent of his dreams.

 Little Black Train by DRAKE, BOB album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.21 | 5 ratings

Little Black Train
Bob Drake RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by penguindf12
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I'm gonna level with you, this is my least-favorite Bob Drake album. Don't get me wrong - it's GOOD - and it has a great country-folk-avant-guitar-rock feel - but it's just not as intriguing as some of his other albums. It's also mostly instrumental. Let's begin!

"Charge" starts us off with the main theme of this album: the electric guitar. Bob often opens his concerts with this tune, wherein he introduces the members of his band. "Hello Music," indeed.

An interesting observation, if I may digress: Bob's albums always seem to have a "featured instrument" - What Day is It? features Bob's vocals - "Little Black Train" features Bob's electric guitar - "Medallion Animal Carpet" brings Bob's production to the fore - "The Skull Mailbox" is dominated by Bob's acoustic guitar - and "The Shunned Country" is built around Bob's banjo. The only album that doesn't fit this pattern is "13 Songs & a Thing," which is more a mishmash of all-of-the-above than anything else, although even it has it's own characteristic sound.

Now back to the album at hand...

After introducing the album with "Charge," we are the treated to an instrumental romp with "No Title." It features a strong hook melody that Bob was to use later on in "It Was a Weasel," in the Furryx60 compilation. It's a great song, but if you don't know about Furry Fandom, don't ask.

"Conductor" kicks off what I see as the "concept" portion of the album - a ride through the American Midwest. It's very quick but excellent hard-rock. Here we board the night train for our ride.

As we ride through the desert in "Leach Field Coyote," let's note the wonderfully-arranged instrumental old-timey country-folk. Have a cold glass of beer, lean your head against the window and watch the sunset.

The train takes us into even more country-rock with "Dust Bowl," featuring Bob's fiddle talents. Watch the swirls of dirt, the strange mesas & buttes, rock formations & decaying thermal establishments. While not an especially innovative tune, it's quite nice. You can hear it at Bob's website:

And now we ride through Haunted Land. I think I had a dream about this song once. It features wordless vocal choruses in a texture of nostalgic folk/rock. Night has fallen completely now - you can only just make out some gravestones in the distance. Really beautiful. We're now in haunted land - the sort Emily Dickinson would write about.

Continuing on into darkness - let's gaze into outer space: "Unlit Galaxies." Pitch blackness, suspended in ether. A nice, if unremarkable, tune. Quite short.

"Outside Influences" breaks up the flow with some lyric-based vocals. Only trouble is, there so much tremolo, we can't understand a word! An incredibly catchy hard-rock tune nonetheless.

Returning to our impressionistic train-landscape metaphor - "Graveyard Variations" takes us further into unknown Haunted landscapes. After a short introduction, we hear a familiar tune in the fiddle flown over a funky backing, followed by some Variations. The train speed spikes, then slows to a near-crawl - why, oh why did this have to happen in the Graveyard of all places??

And so we come to a stop. There's no Conductor, there are no other Passengers. We're just standing in an abandoned field at night, in a graveyard. It's cold. You can barely see your hand in front of you - but there's some trees over the hillside. You stumble over a forgotten path - a grave stands wide open, nobody around - "The Unattended Funeral" - there's a coffin there, too; still open beside the tomb. Maybe it's yours? ------ If you can't tell, I really like this song. ------- "No one remembers...." - Gives me chills. Also the first example of clear vocals on the album.

"Shed, Cans." Frank imagery. An abandoned shed on a hot day. A chugging blues rhythm section. Sweat pours over your brow - that heap of aluminum never looked so poetic, and yet you gotta get to work. 'Nuff band practice in this heat, let's get outta this shed, too many bugs flying around...

"The Glory," despite it's title, has trouble holding my attention. Let's focus: It opens with acoustic arpeggios & skittery percussion ---> this leads to an odd-meter Drake-rock bit before cadencing ----> now we witness more folk-guitar picking in a new setting; there are cadences of organ ----> this is overtaken by fast bluegrass picking distorted by creative production, before revisiting the rock bit and cadencing ----> and now, a short, dark coda. Hm. I still don't really like it that much.

"Ends of Time" - our train journey takes us to the Apocalypse! I knew I shouldn't have payed so much for tickets. Plodding, dark, ominous, heavy -- but not really threatening. Suddenly slightly reflective and skittery - synthesizers. BIG sound. Too Big to really matter, actually. A bit too cheesy. Now it all clears out for a bit - some incredibly tinny noodlings on what sounds like a Regal - that nasal medieval reed organ that Gentle Giant used on "Dog's Life."

The trip is over - now we can reflect. "Same Old Story" is actually a cover - a tune originally by Bruce Odland. This arrangement is brilliant, and very accessible. It's a pop song, complete with clear lyrics about love. But Epic with a capital E.

"Little Nameless Sonata" is a send-off in true Drake form. A short tune recorded in a creative manner to set us to bed, let us know the album is over. I love the live versions of this tune, but the album version is a bit muddy.

You know, I really do like this album. But some parts really drag towards the end, and its almost-totally-instrumental style make it a little less appealing in some ways. But it's a nice ride - very impressionistic. Even though it's my least favorite Bob Drake album, it's still a personal favorite.

 Medallion Animal Carpet by DRAKE, BOB album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.98 | 9 ratings

Medallion Animal Carpet
Bob Drake RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by penguindf12
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Ever wanted to HEAR production?

If you've ever recorded anything, you know that you can "spin" the sound in any direction you want. A song of middling interest can become PHENOMENAL with a well-orchestrated shift in aural perspective. Production IS the sound - and "Medallion Animal Carpet" is FULL of sound.

It's divided into three parts: Part I is a Suite of original songs that segue together with creative production; Part II is a sequence of strangely-mixed country/folk tunes; Part III is a single song collaboration with Tim Gadd.

Part I begins with "Hideous Shrub." The sound emerges throbbing & pulsing through the speakers like a disturbing creature. Instrumental elements appear & vanish with alarming rapidity. The level of vocal audibility shifts erratically; everything grows erratically. There is a sudden break in the texture for a wheezy synthesizer. Excellent - but keep in mind that all I'm describing is just PRODUCTION - the "song itself" consists of a fairly simple vocal melody over world-beat backing. See what I mean? The arrangement IS the music.

This segues directly into "Crude Internal Organ." Now is a good time to mention: almost all of the lyrics came from a random word-generator. Cool, no? This particular number features an incredible amount of lyrics crammed into a very tight spot, all part of a nice little folk melody.

"Detrimental Robot" sounds like a rock tune demo with the greatest production ever accomplished. The vocals sit very deep in the mix; the guitar sits right next to your left ear. The drums are panned hard right. The bass growls like a demented creature. One of my favorite songs.

"Maybe It's ____" features one of Bob's favorite lyrical techniques: lyrics that you cannot make out, that do not make sense. The tune is a nice one. The lyric sheet reads, "??????". There are some GREAT riffs in here - in this whole album in fact.

"Concrete Husky." Man, what can I say? LISTEN TO IT:

"How Was It" sounds like an acid-techno rave from Hell, with obscure vocals appearing in far corners as if being sung by a crowd of millions outside the rave, only-just audible.

Suddenly it all gets sucked up into "Where There is Nothing" -- lots of scratches become a steady, dark beat filled with strange small intrusions. Then an acoustic guitar kicks in; it becomes catchy. Then it falls apart; then strange vocal fumblings are heard.

It all becomes "Mound": a hummable stomp-folk number recorded to sound like it's being played in the next room while sustained synthesizers wheeze away right in front of you. I love it. A lot. It's a very comfortable tune.

"Bedraggled Things" is a song proper, with cadences pockmarked by microphone feedback. Pretty catchy really - and those violins are HUGE.

Now, my favorite: "Flashy Smog Wolf Person"! It, along with "Do You Hear See Ammonia," moves through some incredible moods in a very short amount of time. The chorus of "Flashy" sounds like an over-zealous bar band playing the best accidental-7/4 groove in existence. "Ammonia" is stringy violin scrapings and old-timey gospel vocals sung from across the room. Brings a tear to your eye. LISTEN TO IT:

Suddenly, we're in "Slab." You could play this track at a club and people would dance to it. Holy cow, this is sweet. It MOVES. There's organ, there's excellent electric guitar soloing, the drums are incredibly punchy beyond belief, indescribable things float on the periphery, and the entire thing holds together in an amazing way.

Then it goes away. It is simply ABSORBED into "One Night," where a nice folk tune takes over. Nothing is distinct; it all melds together. The violins are a bit out of tune in the best way.

Then it's absorbed again, very quickly: "Light Seen in Empty _____" is like a piece of ambient Hawaiian music like nothing you've ever heard.

It all crumbles into "Dehydrated," one of the best guitar jams. But it's not quite *right*. You can HEAR the faders get pushed up about 5 seconds in: the entire instrumental texture pulses with unpredictability. The vocals are yelled as if from another dimension. The vocals are suddenly yanked right into our face as the song ends, and you can hear Bob's startled disbelief as the instrumental floor paneling vanishes unexpectedly.

...To make way for the finale, "I'm Afraid...". A noisy grease-organ fanfare leads to an off-kilter folk tune, interrupted by one final send-off acoustic guitar-strum instrumental. Wondrous!

Part II is less interesting, but nice. Strangely mixed country-folk covers, with a couple originals tunes as well, but not as aurally interesting. REALLY BIG sound, and quite "noise-rock" or "lo-fi." My favorite is "Hand Me Down My Walking Cane."

It all ends with "Dunwich Confidential" - guest artist Tim Gadd strumming guitar and singing about a Lovecraft story, with Bob Drake providing arrangement backing. Pretty memorable, but very short!

Overall, the album is -very- "experimental." It's also incredibly good, and interesting, but not the best introduction to Bob's work. It IS, however, an astonishing document of interest to anyone who has ever dealt in the field of aural sculpting.

 The Skull Mailbox And Other Horrors by DRAKE, BOB album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.04 | 6 ratings

The Skull Mailbox And Other Horrors
Bob Drake RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by penguindf12
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This album documents what is probably the definitive "Bob Drake sound." It establishes Bob's Lovecraftian obsessions & penchant for short-form material. This is a great place to start if you're getting into his music, although it does drag in some spots. This would be 5 stars if "The Shunned Country" didn't exist to perfect this already wonderful style - also, whereas "Shunned Country" is dominated by banjo, "Skull Mailbox" primarily features acoustic guitar.

Some highlights:

"They Live in the Well." An excellent opener, and quite catchy. Driven by acoustic guitar and underpinned by wheezy pump organ, distant percussion, and contorted electric guitar lines.

"The Skull Mailbox." An incredible micro-song that goes through about 7 distinct moods in 50 seconds. It's got barbershop harmonies, flitty acoustic lines, the works!

"The Tower." One of my favorites - I've never heard harmonicas go so "wrong!" You can check out this song & the title track at Bob's website (highly recommended!)

"The Horrible Garden" is a hit song for the future. Truly wonderful.

"The Unmentionable Inhabitant" takes an old-fashioned folk idea & runs it through a cheese grater from Hell. You'll never be sane anymore after listening to this - pure brilliance.

"Something's Coming." Oh God it's coming dear Lord don't let it get m

"Calla Lily" is a real oddity amongst oddities. It opens with almost a minute of ambient scrapings before bursting into a Mars Volta-esque odd-meter jam session; this, in turn, is suddenly cut off by a truly scary monologue by Drake himself that makes no sense whatsoever. Excellent.

"The Hideous Portraits" begins with heavy electro-percussion before moving into a classic folk-tune style, the chorus of which occurs in two meters at once. It's very short, but very good.

"You STILL Can't Outwit that Thing" (also available at Bob's aforementioned website!) is as hard-rock as this album gets. Very short, very sweet.

"The Medium's House" is a magnum opus. Noise-guitar & bass alternate with a sensuous acoustic melody in shifting meters, concluding with a catchy folk-dance with an unmentionable monstrosity. It wanted to have a little party!

This a great place to start listening to Bob Drake. I can't recommend it enough!

 13 Songs And A Thing by DRAKE, BOB album cover Studio Album, 2003
2.82 | 5 ratings

13 Songs And A Thing
Bob Drake RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by penguindf12
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This was ever-so-slightly disappointing - sort of a Bob Drake "odds & ends" collection. Don't get me wrong, there are EXCELLENT songs here. But the on the whole this doesn't hold together exceptionally well. It's not really a great introduction to Bob's work; "The Skull Mailbox" is best for that, or even "What Day Is It?" ("Shunned Country," is, in my opinion, his masterpiece, but it may not make for the best introduction).

In any case, Witness:

"Chase." 100% excellence in all ways. An instrumental masterpiece.

"Foam II." A distantly-heard folk tune about an interesting stairway. Excellent ambience that soon becomes a typical Bob Drake straight-ahead rock piece. Fortunately, bizarre production values return once more for the finale, in which bass and guitars struggle to be heard through what sounds like a brick wall in front of the microphone.

"Abandoned Thermal Establishment." Mildly interesting Drake-rock. Man, what a pernicious phrase.

"Rtuff." Excellence. An overview: guitar & bass battle piles of miscellaneous junk; a nice folk tune appears. Guest vocals in Spanish appear from seemingly nowhere; a sax solo ensues over some incredible "electronic" dance music performed in at least two time signatures simultaneously on acoustic instruments. It all culminates with slammingly loud blasts of symphonic dissonance. BUY THIS ALBUM, if only for this track.

"Ten for a Dime." Another INCREDIBLE tune. Heavy doses of Mellotron for all you progheads. An amazing tune that gives me chills. Also probably the most epic song I have ever heard about a dime store.

"Move the King." A hit single featuring Drake's circuit-bent noise box & barking dogs. Folk rock for the new century.

"In Case the Insulator Fails." Probably the best old-timey country-folk tune in existence. HUGE sound here.

"Griffin." Another hit single! The subject matter this time around: magical whitewash, a forgotten museum with huge statues, & sexual lust. And, no, I wasn't being sarcastic about this being a hit single - it's quite catchy.

"Pechan and Willy." A demented waltz arrangement - again, wonderful.

"Spicules." What happens when you sing your vocals into a microphone embedded within a violin, send them through a heavily distorted guitar amplifier, then record the results? Musical excellence.

"Plinth Shriveller." Here Bob uses a random word generator to compose his lyrics. The music is also excellent, an epic on par with "Ten for a Dime." Incredible juxtapositions of style.

"Building with Bones." M'kay, here comes the disappointing part of the album - some may fancy 13-minute tracks of slowly accumulating bits of percussion in a stochastic/acousmatic manner, but I am not a fan. This reminds me heavily of "process music" & Steve Reich-style "minimalism," of which I am also not a huge fan. HOWEVER - it is my understanding that many people do enjoy this, so please ignore my subjective fancies!

"And the Sun." Continues in the abstract vein of the previous track. A piano in the other room plays slow, nostalgic chords as an ambient texture of bowed wine glasses congeals nearer to us. Actually quite nice.

"Foam I." The Spanish vocals return, now in a strange, distorted vision of so-called "world music." Not my favorite, but not a horrible way to end an album.

After typing this, I've changed my mind a bit about this album - it's pretty good. What keeps it from being excellent:

1) It only contains about 30 minutes of actual songs. 2) It's rather disjunct as a whole.

It's still classic Drake, if slightly "de riguer." Pick this one up if you are a confirmed fan, don't start here!

 The Shunned Country by DRAKE, BOB album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.84 | 6 ratings

The Shunned Country
Bob Drake RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by penguindf12
Prog Reviewer

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.

 13 Songs And A Thing by DRAKE, BOB album cover Studio Album, 2003
2.82 | 5 ratings

13 Songs And A Thing
Bob Drake RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by 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.

 What Day Is It ? by DRAKE, BOB album cover Studio Album, 1994
4.03 | 10 ratings

What Day Is It ?
Bob Drake RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by penguindf12
Prog Reviewer

4 stars What Day Is It? opens in traditional Bob Drake style; the listener is greeted by the sounds of a guitar mic being set up, its player adjusting his seating position or perhaps the way he is situated in relation to his instrument. Then, softly, strumming enters solely the left channel; the sound cuts out at intervals, as though the mic was not fully plugged in. Slowly, the sound pans center and the acoustic guitar setting adjusts to the normal expectations of well-recorded music, and thus begins a calm ballad regarding one of Bob's favorite subjects, that of the haunted house. Drake would explore this topic much more in-depth on later concept albums, and this song pales in comparison to those later epics - however, as a prelude to the album and Bob's career as a solo artist in general, The House functions more that satisfactorily.

The instrumental Weeds introduces Bob's disjunct brand of rootsy bluegrass music, a style he was never to abandon even as his work got more and more avant-garde over the years. It's very interesting, but on the whole not extraordinary.

Balladlike, The Statue is comprised of an eerie old organ-driven tale of a possibly living statue. Once again, in light of Drake's later extrapolations regarding the supernatural and bizarre, this particular track seems unexemplary.

Rainy stands out as perhaps the best song on the album, and well worth the time and effort one may expend to add this album to one's possession. It features Drake's most Jon Andersonlike harmonizations yet and a somewhat off-kilter fiddle rendition of Battle Hymn of the Republic set to a distorted tale regarding an old courthouse.

Spiders has a style similar to Weeds, but is much more uptempo and overall incredible.

The Drawing seems to approach a romantic sentiment usually absent in Bob's works, although it still features his rather unusual vocal harmonies; it is another ballad, albeit one with a lengthy 12/8+15/8 instrumental midsection & hints of "Here Comes the Sun."

The fast-paced Plates introduces the sort of sun-baked desert feel that pervades throughout the next four tracks. It seems to wobble along at an alarming rate, suggesting the tectonic movements apparent in the lyrics.

Going Somewhere continues the sun-dried feel of Plates. It is perhaps the greatest song of plodding summer I have ever heard; often, when walking or riding my bike across the open plains, heat and sweat on the back of my neck, the distant ground distorted in mirages, I will find myself humming this song... beautiful.

The Sawblade is a celebration of apocalypse. Beautiful. Once again in Bob's own disjunct bluegrass style.

I have trouble holding my attention during Death Valley; it is the culmination of the rather desert-y feel that has pervaded the last few tracks, yet it is also the most repetitive and (to me) the most uninteresting.

The 13th Animal is a genius rock number that concludes the 'desertlike' sequence of songs; it hints at the styles Drake would later explore on Little Black Train and beyond.

Precarious Glimmering is a simply beautiful, haunting ballad filled with mellifluous chorus-processed bass and dissonant yet delicate vocal harmonies.

The Cementary Trees, for all intents and purposes, concludes the album and reprises the themes of haunting that pervaded the earlier portion of the album; here, finally, is a song to live up the reputation Drake would later establish with albums like The Skull Mailbox and Other Horrors, even if its ending chorus is far and away the best part.

The last track on the album, Good Evening, is nice little instrumental track to send us off to sleep. Kinda nice.

Overall, this is a great album to start with when getting into the solo music of Bob Drake. The songs are short, tight, and highly original - there's nothing not to like here. GET IT!

Thanks to avestin for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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