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Smog | Knock Knock (Domino)
Like an Eric Satie for the dispossessed, Bill Callahan has been wringing tormented mileage out of these hypnotic, encircling melodies for ten years now. And if Knock Knock isn't exactly a Mardi Gras-style display of effervescence it's perhaps as close as he's ever going to get. Opener Lets Move To The Country may be as catatonic as Callahan's stage presence but there's a previously exiled looseness there, a brightness to the guitar and a warmth as his deadpan tenor intones, 'let's move to the country / just you and me.' All too often the backing barely registers a pulse, as one-handed piano is sustained by a scarcely perceptible snare or gathering swell of guitar. But every so often we get a Held, where an almost funky guitar line threads above a We Will Rock You rhythm. 'When I take the prisoners swimming they have the time of their lives,' he sings on Night Guard, and it's in the compelling curiosity of these slowly unfolding narratives that the true perverse beauty of Smog lies.
CWAS #4 - Winter 1998/9 - The Lost Issue