Bill Callahan isn’t known for his bright, cheery outlook on life. Nor is he known for making slick, glossy overtures with his musical vehicle, Smog. With “Rain on Lens,” his latest release, Callahan remains true to form, delivering the stripped-down, somber rock that made him one of the founders of the lo-fi movement.
Since 1992, this virtual one-man band has recorded 10 Smog albums and countless EPs on Chicago’s Drag City label, constantly shuffling his accompaniment, which has included John McEntire of Tortoise and the experimentalist composer Jim O’Rourke, who dotted Smog’s bleak, spacious landscapes with small oases of violins, French horns and (on 1999’s “Knock Knock”) a boys’ choir. However, strings and reeds creep into “Rain on Lens” only sparingly. The bare-bones approach here is guitar-based, more befitting of his earlier 4-track kitchen-recording days, with each number whittled out with careful, measured strokes.
Read the full review at The Japan Times Online