By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
VARIOUS ARTISTS New Groove 3: Deconstruire le Groove Esoterique (REV)
Having researched the subject thoroughly, I'm gonna save you the trouble of figuring out what in Topeka this exotic object is. The midlength answer is that it's a compilation of 17 tracks by (loosely defined) "groove" and electronic artists from Europe and North America, chosen, edited and sequenced by the production team of Dileo and Madison, globetrotting producers of Jack Kevorkian's debut CD a couple of years back. The short answer is that it's good music.
Listen to Marcus Roberts: Real Audio Format Epidemique Zinc Swoon Nuageux Jaune
Download the RealPlayer FREE! Now for the long answer. First, "good music," the way Granddad defined it, isn't why most techno gets out of bed -- it works if it seizes your feet and throws in some fun noises. Fine. What's different about New Groove 3: Reverse Engineering the Esoteric Groove is the way it undermines expectations. Dileo and Madison lay a decoy foundation with an impeccable selection of rhythm-heavy cuts. The complex, gooshy Swoon comes on with "Pomegranate Garrote," whose lyrical trumpet, hijacked from some 1936 nightclub, fights eloquently against a babel of massed voices and an irresistible aortic groove. The squawky loop, backward synth and sampled scratch of Zinc's "Ishmael in Retrograde" ride a crisp beat. You get dense, surreal layerings and miles of tailored thump from the likes of Paco, Henri Lim and 2" Crucible.
But soon you're asking questions. What's a groove? Can it be mostly counterpoint? Nuageux Jaune's "Son Ange Complaisant" makes a case. Can you dump the drums? Eleven Shadows and 3rd Coast String Quartet think so. How about solo piano or guitar? Bop Sh'bam and Jézamenco demonstrate. Is a cello modern technology? Is that a quote from Pink Floyd's "The Wall" decorating Corneille's melancholy improvised jazz piano? Is that sampled voice on Épidemique's "Djellaba" an Arab, or is it master appropriationist David Byrne, getting himself appropriated?
The music is laid out mixmaster-style, to pull you from one idea to the next -- dancing if you want, but definitely listening. And in the end, all your borders are a little fuzzier. So maybe I shouldn't complain about all the work it took to decrypt this disc's intention, all the squinting at its invisible typefaces, all the puzzling over its eye-bashing graphics (by the aptly named Subterfuge). In our indefinite era, where the resistance must wear disguises, it's a survival exercise. And a pleasure. (www.rev99.com) (Greg Burk)
With a mix of cartoonily filtered voices and diva-ish sex appeal, goofy-ass synths and microscopic attention paid to the most trifling of flourishes, Basement Jaxx are a jolting jaunt through club culture, from Grandmaster Flash to Generation Ecstasy. Remedyculls what it needs to from other machine-music styles without getting patchworky, landing somewhere between house's mindlessly celebratory energy and its accompanying claustrophobia.
If house took disco underground, the BJs seem more intent on letting it roam where it will. The bouncy strum of "Rendez-Vu"could rock the warehouse or a Bulgarian wedding -- not since pop aberration Falco has acoustic guitar not plucked by a folkie sounded so good. Obviously, the band's rhythmic ardor is meant to move your body, but the duo of Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe has more in mind than just loft parties. Before the booomp-booomp-booomp has a chance to get tiresome, these ex-Brixton club kids mongrelize it with the oscillating electro-wobble of "Don't Give Up" and the dubby stutter of "Gemilude." In fact, some of Remedy's tracks are too scatterbrained for cutting rug, such as the schizoid tempos and flatulent bass of "U Can't Stop Me" and the sultry tabla-plops of "Stop 4 Love." Such mood swings are welcome on an album that gets a bit too light and perky at times.
There's been a lot of hyperventilating in the press about how the Jaxx are shattering parameters, but the fact is they're taking the kind of ear-grabbing risks that live up to the hype. Warmer, more soulful and worldly than the average drug-fueled ravers, Basement Jaxx may not quite have relaid house's foundation, but they've at least redrawn a few of its rules -- beat by gleeful beat. (Andrew Lentz)
SPOOKY PIE Poisonberry (Boo Records)
This is the second release by one of the finer bands on the L.A. club circuit, and, like a feast of 40 years of California rock, Spooky Pie serves up distinctively flavored slices of Golden State genres, heavily spiced with an eerie gothic sensibility. There's early-'60s surf ("Phantom Surfer"), late-'60s melodic folk-rock with harmonious male/female vocals ("Thunder" and "Octavia"), '70s'90s punk ("Poisonberry") and '80s new wave ("Pretty Weird Thing"). They also perform three covers that actually alter the originals rather than just restate them: a metallic, psychedelic version of the Beatles' "Hey Bulldog," a thrashy rendition of Wilson Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour" and a Shindig teenbeat frugfest of the T-Bones' "No Matter What Shape," which you oldsters may remember as the catchy Alka-Seltzer theme song from the mid-'60s.
Most of the tunes are the creation of lead guitarist Willy Banta, whose fretwork has a Dick-Dale-snarl-meets-Lou-Reed-loose feel. He shares vocals with the sensuous Phyllis Teen (the nom de rock of Weekly staffer Miriam Jacobson). While the influences are varied, the platter has the creepy feel of trashy, moonlit, red-velvet Hollywood nightlife. Memorable stuff -- this Pie is in your face. (Michael Simmons)