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Whether recording under his own name or, in earlier times, as Smog, Bill Callahan has always been enigmatic, a cowboy philosopher with a booming tenor that could make almost anything sound important. His new project finds him as dreamy as he’s ever been, in the sense that dreams can be confusing, disturbing, pure fun, and kind of mind-expanding. Have Fun with God, a collection of dub remixes of songs from last year’s Dream River, is an intriguing proposition – and fully realized with all its holes and deep-bass pulses that swallow much of the lyrics. A stunning space-country ode to Love And What It All Means, Dream River has the kind of conceptual and sonic depth that can lend itself well to reinterpretation. It creates whole worlds out of a woodblock, some flutes, and a lone murmuring guitar, making Callahan’s talks of romantic epiphany sound like they’re coming from a confessional booth in the ionosphere. It’s ideal fodder for dub. Dream River’s personality comes from the richness of his storytelling and, easy to forget, from the sparse sounds in the surroundings, the ascetic guitar figures, the suggestions of a groove. The ability to create silences is not the only connection with the old Jamaican invention of Dub. When you crank the reverb, delete a lot of the verses, and open the spotlight to the bass and drums, it sounds like a new world that casts valuable shadows on the original material. „Dub is a ghost, a duppy. A duppy of a childhood guppy,“ reads the album’s press release. It’s like an old echo that brings back distant memories and nearly lost vibes.  Bill Callahan albums are go-tos for profundity, for mystery, for connection. This little session can easily be misunderstood as a clever joke (and for sure it will get some thumb-down reviews), but it’s far more than the artist’s private playground or a non-sensical exercise for its own sake. It shows that you can dig deep even when most verses are fragmented, suspended in air. You, as the listener, are part of the game, ready for detecting clues, enjoying moments of clearness – and even strolling in the shadows! Bill Callahan’s Dream River is a masterpiece, and this companion album inspires a deeper appreciation of its source material’s beautiful bones, illuminating elements that were hiding in plain sight, like the pretty Fender Rhodes licks on „Ride My Dub.“ If the album ultimately succeeds, it’s because it is a joy to follow this new document of ancient landscapes, old stories and dream texts that deliver new shades of meaning with every listening session (preferably at nighttime), every distant beat of a conga, and every breath they take.

Dieser Beitrag wurde geschrieben am Donnerstag, 23. Januar 2014 und wurde abgelegt unter "Blog". Du kannst die Kommentare verfolgen mit RSS 2.0. Kommentare und Pings sind zur Zeit geschlossen.

2 Kommentare

  1. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Joe Sweeney’s original review:

    „Whether recording under his own name or as Smog, Bill Callahan has always been enigmatic, a cowboy philosopher with a booming tenor that could make almost anything sound important. His new project finds him as dreamy as he’s ever been, but in the sense that dreams can be muddled, illogical, and kind of boring to hear about. Have Fun with God, a collection of dub remixes of songs from last year’s Dream River, is at first an intriguing proposition. A stunning space-country ode to Love And What It All Means, Dream River has the kind of conceptual and sonic depth that could lend itself well to reinterpretation. It creates whole worlds out of a woodblock, some flutes, and a lone murmuring guitar, making Callahan’s talks of romantic epiphany sound like they’re coming from a confessional booth in the ionosphere. Problem is, it’s just not ideal fodder for dub. There’s barely a groove to speak of, and like all Callahan albums, Dream River’s personality comes from the richness of his storytelling and his rumbling, Sam Elliott-fucked-an-angel pipes. When you crank the reverb, delete about every other lyric, and sacrifice the spotlight to the bass and drums, it sounds less like remixing and more like vandalism. Have Fun with God is clearly a lark. It’s not being presented as some profound reinterpretation that’s going to deepen our consciousness („Dub is a ghost, a duppy. A duppy of a childhood guppy,“ reads the album’s press release). It’s not meant to be taken so seriously. But that’s just it. I don’t want a lark from this guy. Bill Callahan albums are go-tos for profundity, for mystery, for connection. This little throwaway session is a reminder that he’s just a dude, and while that’s of course okay, the mystique is sorely missed here. Have Fun with God does have its moments, especially „Summer Dub,“ which improves on the original, „Summer Painter,“ by jettisoning an overcooked narrative in favor of some twisted-up percussion and a thrillingly slow crescendo. And overall, the album inspires a deeper appreciation of its source material’s beautiful bones, illuminating elements that were hiding in plain sight, like the pretty Fender Rhodes licks on „Ride My Dub.“ If the album ultimately fails, it’s because it diminishes the two main reasons to listen to Callahan: his voice and his words. Compared to Dream River, Have Fun with God sounds like a featureless expanse of echoing congas, with the artist occasionally rising from the depths to sing something that doesn’t make sense. If that sounds good to you, I dub thee „a person who is high right now.“ (Slant Magazine)

  2. Joe Sweeney:

    Michael,

    Nicely done.

    -Joe


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