The Texas roots of hypnotic singer-songwriter RICHARD BUCKNER date back to 1994, when his acclaimed debut, Bloomed, was released by a San Marcos label. Eventually, Buckner, a restless wanderer, wound up in Austin, where he spent a good chunk of this past year. He recruited some locals (Butthole Surfers drummer King Coffey, guitarist extraordinaire Mike Hardwick, Meat Puppets bassist Andrew Duplantis) and began recording his latest, DENTS AND SHELLS (Merge). As with almost all his albums, Dents is characterized by a dark brooding, medium to slow tempos, ambitiously vague lyrics, and a sketchlike unfinished quality. Dents also benefits from the energies of its sidemen, and Buckner makes it all work with his unique sense of musical drama and a trance-inducing baritone.