16 Songs, 53 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

From the opening seconds of “Earth Died Screaming,” it’s apparent that Tom Waits named this album Bone Machine for a reason. The unusual percussive attack he’d been using on much of his material for the previous decade sounds even more primitive and physical, very possibly the result of working with this grisly-sounding “bone machine.” His singing is even more tortured and extreme and his lyrical obsessions have curtailed their surrealism to focus on mortality’s eerie call. The funereal gospel chant of “Dirt in the Ground” is slow, foreboding and chilling, Ralph Carney’s saxes and clarinets mourning into the thick, humid air. “Jesus Gonna Be Here” sports a guitar that sounds like a rubber band stunning its singer to pained heights. “The Ocean Doesn’t Want Me” whispers in sad resignation, while “A Little Rain” recalls the more traditional tearjerker ballad Waits can seemingly essay on command. Throughout, the album sounds as if it were recorded in the distance, slightly out of focus and with an extra layer of grime. Absolutely gorgeous in its idiosyncratic genius and a highlight in a career with many peaks.

EDITORS’ NOTES

From the opening seconds of “Earth Died Screaming,” it’s apparent that Tom Waits named this album Bone Machine for a reason. The unusual percussive attack he’d been using on much of his material for the previous decade sounds even more primitive and physical, very possibly the result of working with this grisly-sounding “bone machine.” His singing is even more tortured and extreme and his lyrical obsessions have curtailed their surrealism to focus on mortality’s eerie call. The funereal gospel chant of “Dirt in the Ground” is slow, foreboding and chilling, Ralph Carney’s saxes and clarinets mourning into the thick, humid air. “Jesus Gonna Be Here” sports a guitar that sounds like a rubber band stunning its singer to pained heights. “The Ocean Doesn’t Want Me” whispers in sad resignation, while “A Little Rain” recalls the more traditional tearjerker ballad Waits can seemingly essay on command. Throughout, the album sounds as if it were recorded in the distance, slightly out of focus and with an extra layer of grime. Absolutely gorgeous in its idiosyncratic genius and a highlight in a career with many peaks.

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