Unlike the previous CMP release that was attended during production by the gifted aliens David Torn (producer, guitar), Mick Karn (bass), and Kurt Wortman (drums), Pillbox is a notch closer to the bare, inner psyche of Rinehart, the good, the bad, the tender and the disturbing. Andy Rinehart’s newest is a long time in coming but exhibits the time spent through its crafted arrangements. True to Rinehart’s previous releases this is the work of a (rock?) songsmith with a penchant for the composer’s approach. String and wind players occasionally join band members Matte Henderson (guitars and programming), Gregg Sulzer (drums) and Walter Strauss (guitars), who weave amongst Rinehart’s quirky-organic programming and multi-instrumental performances. This latest one is a record where mandolas, accordions and oboes commune with subterranean grooves and aggressive guitar noise-scapes all disguised by songwriting that could almost be mistaken for pop.
Quirky, organic and loopy; intricate, cinematic and orchestrated; sensitive, aggressive and honest - this album leaves only a few musical corners unexplored. As Rinehart says, "Pillbox nearly expresses my unrelenting interest in cultivating rapid alternations between sensitivity and irreverence."
The Pillbox title refers to a story told by one of the songs about a bad dream had by Buddha, who seems to be having trouble waking up. As the song tells it, Buddha dreams that he has made pills that will cure all of humanity’s suffering, but in the dream Buddha has lost the pillbox in which he placed all of these illustrious pills. To add irony to irony we find that upon awakening Buddha discovers that the pillbox is indeed missing and undertakes a search for it. Thus we begin to suspect that his supposed awakening from the dream may have been false!
Another of the album's characteristics is its odd transience. From 1999 forward Rinehart did several things in succession: built a studio, laid the foundation for an album length set of music, spent countless hours in sound design development, invited musicians to come play (some not even hearing a facsimile of the song that would eventually contain their performance), mixed the thing, then sold all the gear (even most of the instruments that were used) and removed any trace that the studio had ever been there. To add to the finality of the experiment Rinehart moved to a small coastal town in California for several months in order to dilute the trail.
What resulted was a strange-attractor of an album, a pathway that chaos might follow if it forgets to be random.
It deserves mention that this new album by Andy Rinehart also serves as a mini gallery for visual artist-collaborator Keith LoBue who’s numerous otherworldly works underline and omnipresently comment on the musical and lyrical content.