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Now this may make me a few enemies but I've been tiring of Bill Callahan in recent years. Perhaps it's the fact that I have a job where I have to listen to every record, but while I don't struggle to tell that they're well-made and he does have a way with words, the sheer quantity and lack of variety of his Leonard Cohen-esque moody laments has lost its impact through sheer repetition. Just as well for me, then, that the Bill Callahan record I have to review this week sees him mix things up big time, reinventing his recent 'Dream River' LP in dub.
It's a formula which has been enthusiastically received by Phil and the others in the office and I can hear why. His rich, low croak of a voice is still the focal point, and things haven't been reggae'd up too much, but the vocals are treated with varying amounts of tape echo and there's lots of lovely boomy round bass, hand percussion and shakers, as guitars shimmer in an ethereal wash of foggy tones. It's a fairly simple and understated treatment, often reminiscent of the smoky duskiness of Songs: Ohia's 'Ghost Tropic', but it's something different from Callahan from a change, and I for one am happy about that.
5/10 Adam Jones Customer review, 31st January 2014
Usually the idea of buying a remix album would have my gag reflex kicking in quicker than an amateur adult film star during a particularly tricky maneuver, but the news that Bill Callahan (not an artist prone to reinvention - Smog will never be confused with Ween) was going to release a dub album had me intrigued. Unfortunately the album should be filed under "More interesting in theory than in reality" (record shops still have that section, right?) each song offers a woozy, echo-drenched take on last year's Dream River, but the songs were hardly headbangers to begin with. It feels as if Bill and co had each been shot by a tranquilizer dart just before stepping in to the recording booth, too drowzy to be memorable. The man's voice is like a flippin' bubble-bath at the best of times, this needed to be a left of the mark "wtf" moment, instead it's Dream River with a sloth manning an RE-201. Where's the energy? Where's the fun the title promised? After a very heavy drinking session, try watching an episode of your favourite series, the next morning try recalling the plot, for that's what this is akin to.
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