There have been many incarnations of Tom Waits--the boozy piano balladeer, the arch Kurt Weill acolyte, the bold sonic experimentalist--but the one that pops up on REAL GONE is probably most akin to the raw, howling, modern primitive of BONE MACHINE. As he did on that 1992 album, Waits gets in touch with his inner Captain Beefheart on REAL GONE. Instead of employing arrangements that merely suggest the accompaniment of a FAT ALBERT-style junkyard band, Waits actually sounds like he's hooting and hollering in the middle of a Salvation Army scrapyard, albeit one populated by junkmen with an inherent simpatico for his medium.The absence of piano is significant--Waits's jazzy harmonic underpinning is entirely dismantled here, leaving only the most basic, blues-oriented structures atop which Waits hangs his distinctive poetic imagery, at once surreal and highly detailed. There's an overwhelming sense of darkness ("How's It Gonna End," "Dead and Lovely"), but there are also moments of pure unfettered glee "Metropolitan Glide," "Shake It"), which are often goosed along by Waits's son Casey on turntables and percussion. A perennial romantic, Waits does let in a little melodic sunshine on the poignant closing ballad, "Day After Tomorrow," but for the most part, REAL GONE is a deliriously wild ride.