Best-known as director of the seminal black film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song and screenwriter for his son Mario’s current Panther, Melvin Van Peebles released eight now out-of-print albums in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Gothic, Peebles’ first musical product since then, consists largely of reworkings of his older material. The disc locates Peebles’ spoken and sung tales of life in the Big Apple in a variety of rich musical settings. Peebles’ gruff voice is an acquired taste, and appreciating the 10 compositions offered here requires acclimating oneself to his cigar-stained declamatory jazz poetry style—sort of Redd Foxx meets Tom Waits—as well as the manner in which it meshes with the disc’s orchestrated background of R&B, jazz, and funk. The album opener, “Blinded by Your Stuff,” demonstrates the success of such juxtapositions, balancing Peebles’ slurred yet catchy street-corner heartbreak lead with punchy horns, slick keyboard work, and a soulful female gospel chorus. While avoiding the more polemic approach of his Panther screenplay, Peebles nevertheless includes serious subjects among his odes to love, sex, and New York City. In “On 115,” he mournfully pays tribute to a Harlem basketball player turned heroin addict, while his bus-riding lament, “Just Don’t Make No Sense,” contains such attention-getting couplets as “I don’t get me a seat the revolution is here/ You step on these feet and the revolution is right now.”