Carl Hancock Rux: Apothecary RX (2004)


C’mon, ride the train.

Purchase this album: Amazon

THE SCENE: Ever ridden the subway in New York? As part of a massive international city New York’s subway trains are loaded with folks from different lands and cultures, and if all of the riders of a single subway car decided to play music together during their travel, it might sound like the music of writer Carl Hancock Rux.

Rux composes beautiful poems, novels, operettas, plays and songs. In 1998 The New York Times deemed him one of the mostly likely people to artistically influence his generation, an appellation that did not help the sales of his first album Rux Revue, which confounded his labels’ promo team and flatlined. Five years later he released his followup, 2004’s magical Apothecary RX.

Rux’s restless baritone resonates with tobacco and absinthe, as if he’s seen too much and felt not enough, while it steadies and slices through his electronica-enhanced Middle Eastern and Southwestern-tinged songs.

The balletic bass and simmering cymbals drive “I Got A Name” into a tapestry of hidden piano and peek-a-boo choirs, where Rux gives thanks to the Lord while riding the beat like Hannibal on an elephant’s back. “Me”, his ode to his ongoing self-acceptance, jangles with delta-twang and continental buttery piano.

Rux clearly has someplace to be, as most of these songs find him mid-journey. Over a whistling percussion engine the church-like “Eleven More Days” eloquently encapsulates the joys of traveling homeward. The arid “Trouble Of This World” moves more like a sprint through the jungle after the firing of a warning shot, as native drums scare away the screaming guitar macaws.

He drops the ancient future beats for “Fanon” and kicks it super-old-school with wispy layers of cello, violins and melancholy. It’s the perfect song to play when you hear that your new album bricked…

THE FALLOUT:…which is exactly what happened. Four-star reviews yet four dozen copies sold. Rux vaulted to a new label and released Good Bread Alley two weeks ago. Let’s see if the music world has caught up to him yet.

Apothecary RX is available worldwide from Amazon, and you can sample tracks here:

Like a massive cup of Turkish coffee, Apothecary RX is strong, black, international and not for everybody. But if you like Turkish coffee, it’s very appealing for an exotic train ride.

See you next Wednesday.

NEXT WEEK: Her name is Res, which rhymes with “peace”. No wonder you haven’t heard of her.