Rhythm & Views

Giant Sand

Giant Sand are not only back with a new record, but way back; proVISIONS is stellar from start to finish, a consistent, assured work that includes some of Howe Gelb's strongest original material.

"Giant Sand is a mood," Gelb says, but it's more like a parallel universe--an endless sun- and moon-drenched desert, full of all human, biological and cosmic possibilities. On proVISIONS, Gelb and his three Giant Sand Danes (Thøger Lund, Peter Dombernowsky and Anders Pedersen) amble in and out of that dusty, dry, parallel dimension that Gelb has been creating for decades with 13 tales of love, loss, lust, road-burn, muck and plenty of Gelb's surreal wit and double-entendre wordplay.

There's plenty of quality help to create the mood, including Isobel Campbell, M. Ward, Neko Case, Lonna Kelley, Henriette Sennenvaldt and the horns section of the Electric Apes. Some of these songs rate among Gelb's best: "Pitch and Sway" nails the inherent atmosphere of Giant Sand as well as anything I can think of, right from the opening line, "Way out on the horizon there's a monsoon waiting." "Can Do" is the kind of bouncy country funk that Gelb tosses off easily. The horns punch up the funk in "Saturated Beyond Repair," which segues into the atonal-then-pastoral freak-out instrumental of "World's End State Park." The band plays magnificently, and Gelb's gravelly growl has fully taken on that vintage whiskey quality.