Howe Gelb The Coincidentalist

Howe Gelb The Coincidentalist
8
Given the frequency of his releases, it's easy to look at Howe Gelb's catalogue as a work-in-progress, with each album offering merely a glimpse into his state of mind at the time tape was rolling. However, from The Coincidentalist's opening track, "Vortexas," a duet with Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, it's clear that this record brims with everything that's made Gelb a desert rock guru since the formation of Giant Sand over 30 years ago. Mostly, it's in the hazy, reverb-laden sonic foundation, which accentuates Gelb's eclectic arrangements and ultra-dry vocal delivery. One of his best-known students, M. Ward, is his ideal match on guitar, while ex-Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley shows once again how effective he can be in a more restrained setting. However, for every gloriously twangy rocker such as "Unforgivable" and "An Extended Plane of Existence" there's a piece like "Picacho Peak," displaying Gelb's Thelonious Monk-like piano styling, underpinning a poignant vignette based on reoccurring memories. The past and present intermingle in this manner, both musically and lyrically, throughout The Coincidentalist, creating a mood at once steeped in Americana, yet sounding as immediate as if the listener were participating in the creation of the songs. This ranks amongst Gelb's most vital albums in an already storied career. (New West)