Eugene Chadbourne

Insect and Western Party

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An oddly melodic release by the prolific Dr. Eugene Chadbourne finds him teamed up with a wonderfully responsive ensemble anchored by Violent Femmes bassist Brian Ritchie. Ritchie's basslines put a rhythmic force underneath Chadbourne's avalanche of banjo notes. Likewise, Carrie Shull adds oboe work which ups the melodic thrust of the compositions. The three work incredibly well together. Chadbourne's writing is less jerky and far more developed than previous releases, letting melodies unfold over the course of entire pieces, such as the mature "Xubitant." The old rhythmic lurching is still there, though Chadbourne has managed to focus it to good use within the context of songs like "The Indian Pancake Talks Once," which combines the approach with more traditional bluegrass runs, and "Conditioned," where Carrie Biolo's vibraphone adds a ghostly tinge to a formal composition. The music, like just about anything by Chadbourne, is hardly polished (though extremely complex), a trait which, as usual, works simultaneously in the artist's favor and to his ultimate detriment. It imbues each piece with a similar spirit, but also sometimes makes it difficult to enjoy. An extremely worthwhile album in a gigantic catalog.

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