Shunned Country



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ID: aec.reru50206.2


    Shunned Country ReR

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Review Text This weirdly fascinating album consists of no fewer than 52 brief tracks, each of them averaging less than one minute in length, and all of them built around a strange sort of geographical-supernatural concept. The CD's insert booklet consists of the lyrics to the songs illustrated with creepily beautiful oil paintings by Ray O'Bannon, most of them featuring surreal images of death, decay, and foreboding. Musically, the songs are all over the freaking place: "The Shunned Country: An Introduction" opens the program with five-string banjo, drums, and singing that sounds startlingly like Sting circa 1980. By halfway through the album you've heard chunks and splinters of 1970s progressive rock, bluegrass, bubblegum pop, country, and improvisatory noise, as well as oblique musical references to the Art Bears, Flatt & Scruggs, the Beach Boys, and Styx. Some tracks feature spoken word while others are sung, and the brevity of these tracks leads to startling changes in tone, volume, and tempo; the effect is almost cartoony and at times evokes nothing so much as John Zorn's work with the soundtrack music of Carl Stalling. Given that every note on the album was played and sung by Bob Drake himself, those herky-jerky carnival rides of songs must have been a royal pain to multi-track. It's hard to imagine this album having anything like a mass audience, which is kind of sad given Drake's amazing talent and the amount of time and effort he obviously expended on this project. ~ Rick Anderson

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