CD Review: Samuel Claiborne…idiosyncratic musical / sound-craft and poetic vision

Artist: Samuel Claiborne
Title: Love, Lust & Genocide
Label: True Groove Records
Genre: alternative rock

CD Review by Dawoud Kringle

Composer, musician, film-scorer, sound-designer, poet, essayist, video artist, photographer, and former member of the 70s / 80s punk band Things Fall Apart Samuel Claiborne has produced Love, Lust, and Genocide. He is joined by an impressive array of artists, including Tomas Doncker (vocals, bass, guitar), Bill Laswell (bass), Steve Gorn (bansuri), Sohrab Saadat Ladjavardi (horns), and Mamadou Diate (guitar, vocals).

The first track, “Say Goodbye to America” begins with simple guitar chords. Claiborne’s vocals are of the Dylan / Waits / Reed school wherein lyrical content takes precedent over singing skill. Claiborne makes this work as he sings about the ruin of the idea of political freedom in the USA. Doncker’s contributions paint some interesting colors in the song. It ends with jarring, discordant, and unresolved feedback.

“Hungering for Strange” begins with a drum beat and a woman breathing heavily (in a suggestion of sexual arousal) in sync with the rhythm. The bluesy / punkish chords underscore the lyrics describing Claiborne’s sexual proclivities. Ladjavardi’s horn parts contribute a truly interesting contrast to the song while at the same time blending well with the overall sound. A brief guitar solo with a great deal of uncontrolled feedback seemed to invoke the imagery of denizens of the night stalking dark places in search of sexual adventures. Like the opening track, there seems no definite end to the song.

The acoustic guitar figure that opens “The Lion and the Lamb” is almost a shock after the previous song. Alan Grubner offers a wonderful violin part that hangs well with the acoustic guitar. The lyrics are somewhat bitter, and seem to seek some kind of resolve to a personal dilemma of a son at odds with his parents.

“Succulence (Blasphemy)” is a dark soundscape over which Claiborne recites a hallucinatory poem. Gorn’s bansuri floats over this collage with sparse and spacious melodies.

Other interesting moments include the juxtaposition of noise guitar and Jane Scarpantoni’s cello on “Hurt,” Diate’s contribution to “21st Century War,” and the disturbing lyrical imagery of “Broken,” wherein Claiborne describes his experience as a former quadriplegic.

The CD overall is a fascinating collection of great performances, and Claiborne’s idiosyncratic musical / sound-craft and poetic vision. Claiborne uses music like a poet uses imagery and metaphor. Each track has something unique to offer. It is at times often disturbing in its intimacy and honesty.