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The Skull Mailbox (and Other Horrors)

Bob Drake

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Album Review

Bob Drake's third solo album is his most deranged and (consequently) delightful. The theme of The Skull Mailbox (And Other Horrors) is scary stories, the kind where ghosts remain discreet and fear is palpable for unknown reasons — the kind HP Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe wrote. In 43 minutes, the singer/songwriter finds a way to storm through 27 songs that range from warped folk tunes to full-fledged (although very short) avant-prog pieces. He performs all instruments, mostly acoustic guitar, junk percussion, air-pump organ, and vocals, plus some electric guitar, bass, and keyboards. Oh, and lots of miscellaneous noises. Drake intended to keep the focus on the acoustic instrumentation, but his extensive production warps every track. The whole project was allegedly recorded in a decrepit barn, hence the strange background noises one can hear. The whats and wheres don't matter: The Skull Mailbox is a masterpiece that takes listeners back to 5uu's Crisis in Clay. Shortness is elevated to an art, background sounds and textures have been turned into living elements, and seemingly innocent guitar-and-vocals songs hide horrible lyrics and detuned instruments. The dead must have been dancing all around Drake's mixing desk in a grotesque parody of Edward Gorey's drawings. All the characters are demented, dead, or locked up in the cellar. Not for the faint at heart (or ears), this album will delight fans of classic horror literature with a taste for bizarre avant-rock. Strongly recommended. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Customer Reviews

You've probably never heard anything like this before

I want to call The Skull Mailbox a masterpiece, and the only thing preventing me is that it somehow feels a bit wrong to bestow such a unique, imaginative, and thoroughly unpretentious album with such a weighty title. This is an album about the things that slink in shadows in creepy old houses, but it is not a Halloween album—rather, it's an album by a very Halloween sort of person. It's simultaneously atmospheric, eerie, and hilariously funny, and perhaps best experienced in its entirety with no foreknowledge. Highly recommended for fans of Captain Beefheart or other Extremely Strange People Who Make Music.

Biography

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Bob Drake is a recording engineer who, in his spare time, defined the ethos of avant-prog through his work with seminal bands like Thinking Plague and 5uu's. At first a bass and guitar player, he ended up touching every instrument known to mankind and fixed a couple of new ones in the process. He is also gifted with a high-pitched voice, not unlike that of Yes' Jon Anderson. He released a string of solo albums during the 1990s onward, each a more twisted aural journey than the previous one. But no...
Full Bio
The Skull Mailbox (and Other Horrors), Bob Drake
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Rock, Music
  • Released: Feb 05, 2002

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