Moving to the renowned Chicago indie label Thrill Jockey didn't bring a tremendous change to Giant Sand's sound on their album, Chore of Enchantment. Aside from a couple of punkier numbers with thumping drum loops and noisy guitars, the music is mostly restrained and rootsy, its elegiac quality perfectly suited to the record's emotional backdrop -- the cancer-related death of guitarist Rainer Ptacek, who does appear here with a touching slide-guitar instrumental that closes the record. However, the often rudimentary melodies outlined by Gelb's dry vocals don't help make Chore of Enchantment an incredibly accessible record to those outside the group's cult. Many of the songs tend to drift by without grabbing hold, more about atmosphere and Gelb's poetry than anything else. Some cuts underscore Gelb's haunted, lonely desert hallucinations with organ and Mellotron, to a nicely otherworldly effect; the full, fleshed-out sound on these tracks provides the most satisfying listening here. Fans will be glad to have Giant Sand carrying on after Ptacek's tragic departure.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Huey