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
For their fourth full-length album, the DAT-wielding duo of Martin C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel persuaded doctors to open their operating rooms so that they might remix the sounds of surgery. A Chance To Cut is a meditation on “medical technology,” though the pair confined their forays into the O.R. to plastic surgery — liposuction, rhinoplasty and laser eye surgery in particular. Schmidt and Daniel are no strangers to the world of field recordings — their past albums were composed with the sounds of whoopee cushions, blades of grass and crayfish, as well as more traditional instrumental contributions from Dave Pajo (Papa M) and Steve Goodfriend (Radar Bros.). Even when their project strays from the visceral sources listed above (e.g., a piece plucked on the bars of their deceased pet rat’s cage), Matmos make electronic music that reflects the organic world: heavy funk played on a human skull, electro fashioned from the sizzle of lasers on corneas, scattering rhythms crafted via “the galvanic response of Martin’s skin to a constant flow of electricity.”
Pretentious though it might sound, using bourgeois body modification to make edgy pop music is really just smarty-pants gross-out fun, by two forward-thinking musicians loving a medium where listeners can be persuaded to tap their toes to the sounds of breaking nose bones. (Daniel Chamberlin)
604 (Emperor Norton)
In their unichrome coveralls, the Liverpudlian youth constituting Ladytron look back to a future that’s more quaint than moderne. Hammonds, Voxes and Moogs are the band’s best friends, though 604 is hardly blippity boogaloo hopping the quirk wagon; these dreamy ’bots are blessed with a sensual purr.
|Listen to Ladytron:
Helen Marnie’s breathy voice is the lovelorn ghost in this machine’s electro-fueled ballads, conveying heartbreak and frustration in spite of stiff delivery and near-zero phrasing. The percussion is limited to the rhythm boxes of Reuben Wu and Daniel Hunt, who delay and stagger the triggers to give the beats a layered effect. The synths take on a different texture for each track, while the pipe-organ gravitas of “Another Breakfast With You” or the ethereality of “Playgirl” indicates that Mira Aroyo’s Sequential Circuits Pro One is more like an old friend than a showoffy toy. The most left-field thing about the ’Tron is a Soviet apparatchik who pops up on “Discotrax” and “Commodore Rock,” chattering away like a cosmonaut in distress. Cashing in on Cold War–era space-race chic?
The obvious touchstones here are Gary Numan, Magazine, Kraftwerk, etc., but did they have to so blatantly rip off the now-50ish Germans on “He Took Her to a Movie,” a dead ringer for “The Model” from The Man Machine, and “Laughing Cavalier”’s intro, lifted straight from Autobahn? (Nitpicking.) On the whole, these droid ditties are as sweet as Nina Persson — high as a kite — in Düsseldorf’s Kling-Klang Studio. (Andrew Lentz)
Porn Again (Rawkus)
Smut Peddlers represent the raunchy, raucous rebirth of Rawkus recording artists the High & Mighty, a.k.a. Mr. Eon and DJ Mighty Mi, with the addition of mixtape sensation Cage, a.k.a. Alex. The album is aptly titled Porn Again, as if the Peddlers are proud of their addiction to all that is lewd, and expect the listener to happily accept their debauchery. Yet no amount of irreverence on the part of MCs Mr. Eon and Cage can detract from their sheer storytelling genius. Even “Josie” — which begins with the Peddlers having heroin-induced anal and oral sex with a fly “Spanish chick” and culminates when Josie is arrested, jailed and consequently sodomized by a heavyset lesbian inmate — comes across more as a humorous anecdote than a scathing attack on women.
Porn Again borders on scurrilousness, with no insult left unspoken. This is an endearing quality of the Smut Peddlers — their merciless and innate ability to diss anyone and everyone regardless of race, nationality, gender or religious affiliation. They even take a stab at their label and its “The Starting Five” ad campaign on the track “Amazing Feats” (“Fuck your starting five/the starting three are us”). “Diseases” marks the lyrical pinnacle of the album, with Cage and Mr. Eon inventing clever names for the ailments that affect wack MCs and wannabes alike. Not to leave out DJ Mighty Mi, who serves up a steaming-hot portion of macrobiotic beats
to rival those of fellow melanin-challenged producers DJ Muggs and Alchemist.
Lascivious lyrics aside, you’ll either love Porn Again to death or you’ll hate it with every fiber of your being. And that’s what makes this set the quintessential American rap album — after all, isn’t immorality in the mind of the beholder?
Angola ’60s: 1956–1970
Angola ’70s: 1972–1973
Angola ’70s: 1974–1978
(all Buda Musique, distributed by Allegro)
Someone at the French label Buda Musique knows how to do historical surveys right. First Ethiopiques, and now this five-CD series on Angolan popular music; both deliver wide-ranging musical selections and liner notes that focus on providing a social/cultural context for the music, more than a deluge of details for ethnomusicology students. Early Angolan pop music became an affirmation of Angolan and African identity just as armed nationalist groups sprang up against the Portuguese colonizers in the late ’50s. Musicians paid the price for 20 years with everything from concentration-camp stints to multiple executions during the liberation wars, factional rivalries and infighting.