HOWE GELB with Catherine Irwin at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Wednesday (June 20), $8.50. 416-598-4753. Rating: NNNNN
Howe Gelb seems to be disappearing into himself.The recordings by the Tucson singer/songwriter and Giant Sand frontman are getting more minimal and bizarre year by year.
The process first became obvious on 2000's elegiac Giant Sand disc, Chore Of Enchantment. This year's excellent solo set, Confluence, is stripped down even further.
"I had a solo opening slot for PJ Harvey a few years ago," Gelb explains. " I was a little bit more insane back then, and I was just getting finished with this 10-day lemonade fast, so I walked out the door with just my guitar. The set was completely wooden and uncluttered, and it felt great."
The newly slimmed down Gelb beefs up only slightly on the next full-band production by Giant Sand. The group's next album, due out in the fall, is an all-covers affair that includes a laid-back jazz version of Iron Man.
With much more than just piano and drums playing in Gelb's mind, the unorthodox recording is another attempt to get hold of the weird sounds he hears.
"I was at this bar and they had a Jobim-style band," Gelb laughs."I sat in with them, and then brought them in on the last day of the Giant Sand record.
"See, about two months ago I was taking a bath, and there was this weird moan coming from the tub. I ran for the MiniDisc machine and recorded it.
"When we did Iron Man, I remembered that sound and popped it in, and it fit perfectly with those Brazilian-style guys. Fate, I guess."