samedi, septembre 11, 2004

Album: Giant Sand

Is All Over... the Map, THRILL JOCKEY

By Andy Gill

10 September 2004

With the Giant Sand main man, Howe Gelb, now spending a sizeable part of each year in his wife's hometown of Aarhus, in Denmark, his band's sound is diversifying accordingly. The desert blues of earlier Giant Sand releases is less in evidence on an album that is both musically all over the map - from grunge to jazz to blues to samba - and geographically widespread, too, with songs written in, or about, Italy, Germany, New York and Denmark.

One track, "Les Forçats Innocents", is even sung in French, over a slinky blend of piano, acoustic guitar, mandolin trills and Latin hand percussion; it's beautifully poised between the shuffling samba "Fool" and the languid Mediterranean exotica of "Napoli", both of which wouldn't sound out of place on an album by Calexico, the soundscape outfit formed by his old rhythm section of Joey Burns and John Convertino. They've been replaced here by a mainly Danish line-up, whose attentive ear helps ensure the album sustains a grainy, febrile manner, reminiscent of Tom Waits.

But perhaps the most striking characteristic is Gelb's piano-playing, which ranges from jaunty ("Rag") to jazzy ("NYC of Time") and even to prepared-piano on "Drab", where the reverberations of batteries, CDs and other objects bouncing on the strings provide a pause for thought at the heart of the album.

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