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Al­ways prone to ec­cen­tric­ity, in re­cent times Billy Cor­gan has defini­tively gone off the deep end. In 2014, he per­formed a six-hour im­pro­vised synth jam – based on Her­mann Hesse’s Sid­dartha – in his Chicago tea­house. More re­cently, he has turned up on alt.right fig­ure Alex Jones’ on­line show, In­fowars, to dis­cuss weaponised zom­bies, shapeshifters and the pos­si­bil­ity of be­ing tar­geted by the CIA.

That one of the great tal­ents of US alt.rock – maybe it should now be alt.right rock – has re­duced him­self to such a laugh­ing stock is crim­i­nal. Nonethe­less, Cor­gan’s resid­ual legacy from Smash­ing Pump­kins is such that he is still able to at­tract heavy­weight tal­ent for his records. Thus, he has teamed up with su­per-pro­ducer Rick Ru­bin for his se­cond solo al­bum, Ogiglala, which ar­rives a full 12 years after his first, TheFu­tureEm­brace.

As pre­vi­ously proven with his ac­claimed work on Johnny Cash’s fi­nal Amer­i­can record­ings, Ru­bin spe­cialises in strip­ping down the sound of an artist and get­ting to their cre­ative essence. It’s an ap­proach he has con­tin­ued on this al­bum, al­though the bare bones ver­sion of Cor­gan is scarcely less te­dious than the max­i­mal­ist one.

Tracks such as ‘Zowie’, ‘Aero­naut’ and ‘Amarinthe’ plough a dreary piano and acous­tic furrow, with pre­cious lit­tle of the melodic in­ge­nu­ity that pro­pelled the singer to su­per­star­dom in the ’90s. Speak­ing of which, per­haps the most no­table as­pect of the al­bum is the re­union of Cor­gan with his old Pump­kins band­mate James Iha, with the two work­ing to­gether for the first time this cen­tury on the del­i­cate bal­lad ‘Pro­ces­sional’.

By all ac­counts, Cor­gan has mended fences with all of his own band­mates and, of late, there have been con­stant ru­mous of a re­union do­ing the rounds. On this ev­i­dence, it can’t come quickly enough.





‘The Long Good­bye’


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