New Richard Buckner: Traitor


When life travels at the speed of the Internet, releasing albums anything more than two years apart seems – fair or not – like a dangerous career play. But then there’s Richard Buckner, a man who makes music too vital to ever be considered disposable or subject to the whims of the 140-character crowd.

After releasing albums about every other year for most of his career, Buckner has been quiet for five (long) years – since 2006’s Meadow came out on Merge Records. But on Aug. 2, at long last, Buckner and Merge will present a new album, Our Blood.

Reasons for the wait are many: an aborted film score, the demise of a tape machine, a stolen laptop. But, Buckner says, “The recording machine was resuscitated and some of the material was recovered. Cracks were patched. Parts were redundantly re-invented. Commas were moved. Insinuations were re-insinuated until the last percussive breaths of those final OCD utterances were expelled like the final heaves of bile, wept-out long after the climactic drama had faded to a somber, blurry moment of truth and voilà!, the record was done, or, let us be clear, abandoned like the charred shell of a car with a nice stereo.”

This is music to my ears. I first saw Buckner live in Tempe in 1995 (with Alejandro Escovedo) and it was, without a doubt, a moving experience – one of the first times I can remember being left defenseless to a live-music moment. So it’s confusing/maddening/dispiriting to read (in a great new interview at Aquarium Drunkard) that Buckner is driving forklifts, holding road signs and working for the census to stay afloat. “The only money comes from touring. There’s no money in making records.” That may be totally obvious now, but it doesn’t make it any less depressing hearing it from an artist you truly admire.

Still, I feel hopeful and thankful that Buckner hasn’t just given up on it all, that I’ll still have new music to look forward to from him. (And for crying out loud, if you don’t own Bloomed, it’s one of the finest albums in my collection.)

Below is Traitor, the first single from Our Blood, which is available for preorder at Merge. And be sure to check out what appears to be Buckner’s newly launched website.

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