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Friday, August 23, 2013

Hungry Cowboy - Dance (Prom Night, 2013) ****

According to the label Prom Night's web site, "hungry cowboy performs Jacob Wick's graphic compositions loosely based on the emotional landscape of Cormac McCarthy's Southwest novels."

I was introduced to author Cormac McCarthy in an undergrad American Literature class as the new - or most recent - Faulkner, or something like that. From the darkness of No Country for Old Men, to the post apocalyptic bleakness of The Road, to the flowing All The Pretty Horses, Brooklyn based 'hungry cowboy' has chosen a deep well to draw inspiration from, and they certainly seem up to the task. Comprised of Jacob Wick on trumpet, Briggan Krauss on saxophone, Jonathan Goldberger on guitar and Mike Pride on drums, the group creates it own images of dusty Western plains, dry cracked river beds, and menacing skies.

The opening track 'Gleam' begins with an abstract call and response between the quartet, but the sparse and spacious score begins to fill in with a hopeful tune, and ends with a foreshadowing of the gathering storm. It arrives in 'Dance,' a heavy guitar driven track that finds Goldberger and Pride locked into a deadly march across the parched landscape. The closing track, 'Clear', features the austere legato of the horns locked in repetition over clattering percussion. The guitar scratches and buzzes around with bad intent as the tension builds into a wrenching climax and unresolved, but again hopeful, ending.

I listened to Dance for a long time before I was aware of the McCarthy connection but find my imagination piqued by it. Regardless, this is a solid and inventive album that is a visually suggestive as it is musically compelling.