Bob Drake

Medallion Animal Carpet

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Drake is a behind-the-scenes kind of guy who customarily plays a little bass and is otherwise a recording engineer, mixer, and producer. He has worked with Thinking Plague, the Science Group, and out-rock types like Chris Cutler and Fred Frith, who often appear on England's ReR Megacorp label. This is Drake's first and only recording as leader (actually, it's almost a solo recording, with a few guest spots from Cutler, Steve Gadd, and others). Drake takes his opportunity by the throat from the get-go, and although this is a ragged and absolutely crazed piece of work, it's ragged and crazed in the most delightful way. Postmodern gestures are abundant, including the liberal use of a random sentence generator which makes most of the lyrics totally unintelligible, and Drake's heavy use of studio wankery for segueing, crossfades, vocal samples, and all manner of weirdness. But the underlying text is roots rock tending toward hillbilly, with some great guitar licks and pounding percussion from Drake and his cohorts, which seems to capture the essence of every sloppy, exuberant bar band in small-town America. Drake deliberately abandons fidelity and clarity on many of the short pieces, which may sound like a negative thing -- but which works brilliantly on the CD, because it's clearly a technique designed to create a particular sonic experience. Part two of the CD is even wilder, with Drake bringing in some traditional hillbilly gospel samples ("Over in the Glory Land," "Hand Me Down My Walking Cane"), but laying on such a thick load of percussion, wobbly fiddle, and distorted thrash guitar that he seems to be blurring the line between religious ecstasy and demonic possession. Brilliant stuff, albeit not for the faint-hearted.

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