- 01 Nov 17
Underwhelming outing from alt-rock veteran
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, Ogilala, 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'.