With each record, Giant Sand's Howe Gelb seems to move further away from conventional rock, folk and country, but still hits at the heart of each. As he gets stranger, his records get better and more beguiling. Confluence is the oddest one yet, a fractured, elliptical set of songs that makes last year's eerie Chore Of Enchantment disc seem like a Butch Vig production by comparison. Recorded at home, on buses and occasionally in a room with doors, Confluence sounds like a record with its centre cut out. There is no clutter, just hazy sketches of songs that chug along defiantly, with guests like Grandaddy, Calexico and John Parrish adding pedal steel, tuba and background chatter when necessary. At times, there's almost nothing here, but Confluence is as full a pop record as you could hope for.