Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Strange Scraps and Sudden Sambas

We're back for today's installment of Eat This Grenade! with two great tracks from the consistently-bewitching brain of Mr. Howe Gelb, both in bite-size solo form, and with his band, Giant Sand.

Since releasing their first album in 1985, much has been made and mentioned of Giant Sand's Tuscon roots, and while describing their sound as "dusty", "cracked" or "desolate" is all too easy, it's really pretty apt. Their songs have a strange, lilting power to them, and a sound that could have only sprung from a sprawling, wide-open space like the Arizona desert.

"Satellite", from Giant Sand's 2000 Thrill Jockey release, Chore Of Enchantment, is up first. I think what I've always loved best about this cut is the sheer, lurching meatiness of it; layers of groaning, grinding slo-mo guitars battle it out with backwards tapeloop splatters, Gelb's croaky, stream-of-consciousness vocals and a surprisingly sweet melody to bring you six minutes and forty-eight seconds of gorgeous, hazy drone. It even stumbles into a weird, hesitant little sudden-samba for its final few seconds.

Giant Sand - "Satellite"
(MP3, 195kbps (VBR), 9.6MG)

A couple of years prior to Chore Of Enchantment, Gelb released his second solo outing, Hisser (V2 Records, 1998). Gelb assembled, performed and recorded practically the entire 19-track album on his own, apart from a few guest appearances. Standout track, "This Purple Child" (featuring Grandaddy, who, rumor has it, kickstarted their signing to V2 by slipping a demo tape to Gelb) really digs itself into your head after a few spins. Feeling almost like a more-subdued precursor to the fuzzy trippiness of "Satellite", the track floats along with a wobbly, creepy beauty all its own, and even with repeated listens, I can still hear strange, new scraps of sound buried in the mix.

Howe Gelb - "This Purple Child"
(MP3, 192kbps, 7.9MB)

You'll want to bring these along in the car on that next lonely, late-night highway drive, trust me.

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