UnknownOxbow (featuring Eugene Robinson) /Love That’s Last: Hydra Head Records, 2006

With a surprise visitation from the anti-diva Marianne Faithful on “Insylum,” her gravel voiced sorrow and madness reveals the larger palate of the band as they embody and disrupt the likes of Birthday Party, Tom Waits, Chrome Cranks, Gallon Drunk, and all the others who turned lounge music into a voodoo-witchcraft-black sorcery-mondo B-movie-Richard Kern-free jazz sonic spree befitting a David Lynch film. At times, singer Eugene Robinson is capable of true tenderness that unleashes mottled, seeping, and tone-poem pastoral music, but he is also equally adept at lunging, gesticulating notes of terrible beauty too — caterwauling intensity and molten self-horror. Hence, Oxbow’s patterns drink deep.  The songs don’t serve their aims individualistically but instead gel, morph, and and lean against the soft elbows of each other, like front porch blues songs swept into hallucination-molded cinema. There’s a dry air around the sounds that surround listeners in immersive open room acoustics, so everything feels a little verite, a little  unadulterated, and a little accidental. Even the quietness of “The Valley,” which for a slender moment feels like Mark Lanegan is at the helm, eventually just disperses into language dribbles. Secrets can’t be shared, it seems; incoherence and pathos seal the deal, and aloneness impregnates the chords. If you are looking for routine song craft sensibilities, don’t look here, unless you like to see the naked bulb of your expectations shatter under art bombs.


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