(Bobbin Shop, 2006)

Few stories manage a soundtrack CD without first being a movie, or at least a play. But Bazza must have decided Joe Lansdale's Freezer Burn couldn't wait, because for their album Freezer they skipped the pesky business of casting and choreography and went straight for the music, trusting the original text to provide any explanation missing from their songs.

It was a great idea. Free of the need for actors or aesthetics, Bazza covers the entire sprawling landscape of Lansdale's text, which roams over the varied landscape of Texas, through a carnival, and up and off whirlybirds and bridges. For a narrator they snagged Alexander Zipper, who could add atmosphere to a high school penmanship contest and should by rights be the only man allowed to record audio versions of Lansdale's work. His voice has the texture of an old gravel road after midnight, carrying the story between stops.

But if Zipper's voice is the road, Bazza's music is the roadhouse. Bazza sings with a disinterested drawl that lets the tune add all the emotion, and plays that music with an authority that doesn't need flashy licks to boost its force. Their rootsy folk carries guilt, ecstasy and panic, sometimes in the same song, and reveals the sympathy in the blackest of the dark characters. Whether meditating on life in "Mock Crest" or sharing the heat of "Storm Lovers," Bazza delivers the catchiest character studies since Jesus Christ Superstar first discovered musicals didn't need a dance number.

For all the accurate representation and sometimes direct quoting of Lansdale's text, Freezer in no way spoils Freezer Burn. Like any good icebox, it preserves the flavor and color of the original meat, adding nothing but a little life and a lot of cool.

by Sarah Meador
26 May 2007

Buy it from