Carl Hancock Rux
Poet, playwright and all around Renaissance man Carl Hancock Rux has been rocking New York’s cultural scene for over a decade. As a poet, playwright and performer he was a mainstay at the Nuyorican Poets Café on Manhattan’s lower east side in the early ’90s. The New York Times voted his last album, Rux Revue, one of the top ten alternative music albums of 1998. That same year, The Village Voice named him one of “eight writers on the verge of impacting the literary landscape,” and raved about his book of poems Pagan Operetta. To top it all off with a sweet cherry on top, this prolific artist won an Obie award in 2002 for his play Talk.
Now, just before he releases his debut novel Asphalt, Rux gives us Apothecary: Rx. He said making this recording was like going into a drug store and finding the roots and herbs that could heal him. The end product is a mix of songs, poetry and sermon-like messages that are luscious and fulfilling.
Rux has poured a lot of spiritual energy and supernatural art into this project. With Apothecary: Rx, he conjures up the spirits of Fanon, Jung, monks, black preachers and African slaves. He mixes singing and sermons with violins, cellos, Tibetan prayer, Middle Eastern sitar work, gospel and electronic keyboard samples to cast a spell on the listener. His deep, hypnotic voice is so rich and sensual that you feel it in your body.
The album ranges in moods from haunting and melancholy, to sensual and soulful. Rux shows his versatility as a wordsmith and musician with this eclectic offering. He preaches on “Eleven More Days” as he speaks and then sings several of the words with the cadence used by many African-American preachers. The background singers serve as the church choir as they sing, “Eleven more days in the city / eleven more miles to roam / eleven more prayers of pity / eleven more stops to home.”
Rux said he didn’t want Apothecary: Rx to be a spoken word album. And it isn’t. It is a blend of poetry, phrases, humming, moaning, singing and prayer that serves as a prescription for weary souls. This is the album to buy if you’re looking for a source of magical and passionate artistic expression.
Giant Step Records: http://www.giantstep.net/