Smog : Rain On Lens

Bill Callahan's 'difficult' years. Yes, even more difficult.

Bill Callahan,?s ?difficult? years. Yes, even more difficult ?This Is Smogcore?,anyone? There have been dark records by Chicagoan Bill Callahan. There have been wilfully obscure ones too, but there has never been one as single-mindedly dour as this.

Recorded in ten days by a throng of lo-fi luminaries, Callahan did his best to make the process as unenjoyable as possible. Mutterings on the lo-fi grapevine tell of Boss Smogforcing his band to live on nothing but sushi and Buddhist vegan food. One drummer was fired for the heinous crime of smuggling a hot dog into the studio.

If Callahan?s aim in such post-rock shock tactics was to ensure his record sounded leaden and joyless, then ?Rain On Lens? is a triumph. For while there is some awesome stuff here ? the dissonant ?Dirty Pants? and the genuinely beautiful and entirely unsettling slab of personal philosophy ?Live As If Someone Were Always Watching You? ? ?Rain On Lens? marks a peculiar, sullen blip in the prodigiously gifted Callahan?s recent work and a mildly disappointing end to a run of three terrific Smog LPs ? ?Red Apple Falls?, ?Knock Knock? and ?Dongs Of Sevotion?. Time to chase the grey clouds away and let the sunshine in, dude.

Jim Wirth