Smog The Doctor Came at Dawn
- Released: September 10, 1996
- Originally Released: 1996
- Label: Drag City
Q - 10/96, p.1723 Stars (out of 5) - "...waspish reveries on the exquisite pain of twentysomething loneliness....built around melodic longeurs underpinned by discursive strings and occasional synthesizer, Smog songs invite pull-yourself-together finger waggage..."
Alternative Press - 12/96, pp.89-905 (out of 5) - "...his most consistent collection of lullabies for the terminally sleepless and the perpetually disenchanted..."
Melody Maker - 9/14/96, p.51"...[Bill Callahan has] created a room of 10 carefully tilted mirrors, candles aflame, windows thrown open to the midnight rain, to show his intoxicating sadness to the best advantage....Five stars from Which Miserable Bastard? magazine guaranteed. And you know the weirdest thing? It cheered me up..."
NME (Magazine) - 9/7/96, p.476 (out of 10) - "...a brand of honesty that's verging on the offensive, a peek into the life of an obsessive, low-rent, lo-fi saddo....Callahan's style of disclosing private details...means that you'll not relax into the tunes, no matter how slow and chiming they may be..."
Song previews provided courtesy of iTunes
Smog: Bill Callahan (vocals, acoustic, electric, Spanish & slide guitars, mandolin, ukulele, fiddle, flute, saxophone, piano, organ, bass, drums, percussion).
Additional personnel: Cynthia Dall (vocals).
Includes liner notes by Bill Callahan.
Bill Callahan, aka Smog, started taping his music in the dark, lo-fi insularity of his bedroom/basement/whatever, and it is remarkable to see his songs finally come out into the light. THE DOCTOR CAME AT DAWN peels away about 20 layers of the gray-noise fuzz usually found on Smog records, to reveal a wondrous, emotionally-direct batch of folk songs. Welcome to the hi-fi bedroom recordings of the spiritually unstable (and tales thereof).
The sheer voyeurism of Callahan's acoustic-guitar-and-dread approach makes it difficult to listen to THE DOCTOR CAME AT DAWN at times. But that's also a mark of craftsmanship. Minor details like the use of singer Cynthia Dall as a foil on the gentle yet biting "Lize," the ambient synth that protrudes through every bit of "Spread Your Bloody Wings," or the tempo stumbles and sweeping strings on "You Moved In" (a Tom Waits-like tale of destitution), enhance the terror that creeps between the cracks of just about every song here. In that way, THE DOCTOR CAME AT DAWN is more like a Tricky record than anything else.
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