Release Date: Sep 14, 2004
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
It was four years since the last album from Giant Sand (Cover Magazine doesn't really count), and Howe Gelb is still making albums to please himself. Which is as it should be, since no one makes records that sound quite like this: a shambolic, atmospheric mixture of hushed tones, deadly distortion, tender poetics, and rock & roll. There are some new members in the Giant Sand family, but they sound just as versatile and fit just as well as the too-busy members of Calexico, Joey Burns and John Covertino.
Rarely was an album more aptly named, since it finds our itinerant hero Howe Gelb darting across the globe. Gelb currently lives in Aarhus, Denmark, hence his visits to studios in Aarhus and Copenhagen - but he also jumped on the redeye for the long haul back to his spiritual home, Tucson. Musically, the disc feels jerky and distracted, as if Gelb was plagued with fragments of ideas (and indeed scraps of different languages, since Les Forçats Innocents is in French).
I realized recently – with some chagrin – that in reviewing Howe Gelb’s music twice before (his solo effort The Listener and The Band of Blacky Ranchette’s Still Lookin’ Good to Me) I trotted out the same cliché on both occasions. Thankfully, on his umpteenth Giant Sand full-length, Gelb’s been kind enough to save me the trouble, because the phrase is scratched across the record’s cover. In a literal sense, the notion of Giant Sand being “all over the map” is more accurate now than ever before.