By J Howell
Howe Gelb begins The Coincidentalist with a half-whispered “Welcome to the desert.” It’s as intriguing an invitation as ever, but one that—after 30-plus years and who knows how many records—is as familiar as your front door. If you’re a longtime listener of Gelb and his various permutations and projects, that is. That there are now almost as many “projects” of Gelb’s as there are albums is both a testament to Gelb’s prolific work ethic and possibly a reason why Gelb hasn’t really caught on with the public so well, in the States at least.
His status as an elder statesman of risk-taking, genre-distorting “erosion rock”—though there’s so much more to it than that—is legendary, if mostly in the sort-of ghetto of “musician’s musician.” Howe Gelb almost seems cast as a musical crazy uncle, the sort who’s fun and smart and maybe just a little bit kooky, but who the rest of the family doesn’t mention much. This is a damned shame, as Gelb’s iconoclastic voice is just plain good for the soul, and awfully damned clever to boot.