Xiu Xiu & Eugene S. Robinson Present - Sal Mineo [Important Records - 2013]“Sal Mineo” is the product of a collaborative effort between Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart and Oxbow’s Eugene Robinson. The album is ostensibly named after the American actor best known as John “Plato” Crawford in the film “Rebel Without a Cause.”
Every now and then a release comes my way, which I have a bastard of a time articulating what the album sounds like. “Sal Mineo” sounds exactly like how I would imagine Jamie Stewart and Eugene Robinson to sound if you threw them together in a recording studio. Of course, that assumes that everyone is already familiar with Xiu Xiu and Oxbow. But for those living under a rock, I guess you’ll have to make this reviewer earn his keep. Stewart and Robinson craft short sonic vignettes, with each track hovering between the 30 second and 3 minute mark.
In the 24 tracks that make up Sal Mineo, Mr. Robinson takes on the majority of the vocal duties, which go from spoken word to angry singing. Mr. Stewart handles the instrumentation, which run the gamut, including: chimes, eerie organs, gongs, synth, wind instruments, tambourine and just about anything else left to his disposal. The album feels very improvisational overall. As if the 2 collaborators met up at one of the others’ homes and said, “let’s bang out a record”. Of course, for those with a experimental pallette, this can often elicit the best results. At times “Sal Mineo” reminds me of Tom Waites’ “Rain Dogs”....if “Rain Dogs” was composed of songs played with power violence concision and Tom had a penchant for weird synthy compositions. I can imagine “Sal Mineo” being performed at a coffee house in some David Lynchian parallel universe.
Overall, “Sal Mineo” is a surreal ride, but an enjoyable one. An interesting mix of lyrical poetry and minimal instrumentation. Hal Harmon