Wednesday 5 July 2017

Review: Oxbow – 'Thin Black Duke'

'Thin Black Duke'

Since 1989 Oxbow have been at the pinnacle of experimental rock. Blending noise, avant garde, jazz, blues and classical influences they have carved out an impressive discography of brilliant, and sometimes challenging, but always intelligent rock albums. It's been ten years since the band's last full-length studio effort, 'The Narcotic Story', and fans have been keeping their fingers crossed for a new album since. Finally though patience has been rewarded and the band have returned with 'Thin Black Duke'.

The wait has been worth it with the band a surprisingly ordered yet still characteristically chaotic collection of tracks. Much of the chaos is down to the irrepressible vocals of Eugene S. Robinson who often sings against the grain of the actual songs. Screeching, wrenching his vocals chords and delivering deep spoken passages as the mood takes him. It's almost like having a cast of different characters chipping into each track to tell the same story.

Sonically the album at first glance seems quite ordered and well-behaved, but there is a classical feel to it where elements erupt and build before falling away. Motifs are re-used and often small elements are developed and evolved throughout the album giving it the feeling of being a whole piece with individual movements within.

Tracks such as 'A Gentleman's Gentleman', 'Ecce Homo', 'Host', 'Letter Of Note', 'The Finished Line', and 'The Upper' show the band at their best. Maddening, captivating and intelligent as they play with genres, swerve into new areas and back again, and still keeping some semblance of a fundamentally catchy rock album at its core.

Despite having dissonance at their core, the production balances the crazier elements with the melodic quite nicely. But at this point this should be no surprise as the band have the experience and expertise to adjust their performance on the fly and find the cohesion in the parts of the song that may seem at odds with each other.

This is a welcome return from a band that has been sorely missed over the past several years. Their last outing, 'The Narcotic Story', may have been a tough act to follow but the band have delivered with this album. Long-time fans of the band will easily get to grips with this and it is a nice entry point to for new listeners as well. Let's just hope it's not another ten years before their next full-length release.   

Download post as PDF file
Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

[Valid Atom 1.0]

Click to download our free compilation albums!


Radio Nightbreed