Tom Waits is a brilliant musician. This album, Bone Machine, is not his best, nor his most well-known, and yet this still qualifies, with ease, for Sine Macula.
Bone Machine was released in 1992, Waits first proper album since 1987’s Frank’s Wild Years. In the years between the albums Waits did a bit of acting, and the only albums of music he released were a score to a Jim Jarmusch film, and a live album. Waits’ musical career can be easily divided into three periods: 1973-1982, in which Waits wrote albums of mostly piano music, focusing mostly on bluesy tunes and ballads; 1983-1991, in which Waits stripped down his music, and started utilizing a lot of different styles of music, most famously the influence of gypsy music in Rain Dogs; and then 1992-present, in which Waits’ instrumentation becomes both barren, and unusual to the point unrecognizable, sometimes. Bone Machine is the first and, probably, the greatest of his albums in this third period.
It’s an apocalyptic album. The world is bleak, dark, and twisted. Waits weaves narratives of misery and suicide, but leaves the listener, as only he can, with a sense of hope at the albums finale.