Love Tractor

Black Hole

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Even before reading Love Tractor's circa-2005 bio on their record company's website, in which King Crimson, Yes, and Uriah Heep are cited as influences and reference points, while listening to their album Black Hole you might find yourself thinking, "Hey, have these guys decided to become a prog band?" While some small pride might be taken in sussing out Love Tractor's shift in creative direction, this isn't quite the same band that cut Around the Bend or This Ain't No Outer Space Ship, at least in terms of personnel. While Love Tractor's 2001 reunion album, The Sky at Night, featured three-quarters of the group's original lineup, only guitarist Mike Richmond is on board for Black Hole; he also produced the sessions and wrote the material, so it's no great shock that this has a decidedly different sound and feel than the band's previous recordings. If you were hoping for Love Tractor's distinct and energizing fusion of jangle and groove, you're out of luck; instead, Black Hole is dominated by slower tempos, harder guitar lines, grander melodic figures, and a greater degree of aural experimentation, including plenty of keyboards and periodic interjections of violin and sitar. Richmond's music boasts the intelligence of Love Tractor's classic work, but it isn't as immediately engaging, and takes off in plenty of unexpected directions, not all of which lead to worthwhile destinations. Black Hole possesses enough sonic daring to make it a worthy listen, but plenty of longtime Love Tractor enthusiasts are likely to find this album a puzzling and unsatisfying experience.

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