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Turn the Tide 

Wednesday, Mar 21 2001

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Lee, already unstable enough (as evidenced by the fact that his popular band rarely set foot out of L.A., even at their peak), was driven right over the precipice by mid-1967. Love began as a churning garage machine, an unholy mating of the Stones/Byrds and Rising Sons 18 months or so earlier, and by this third record had morphed into rock’s first Goth act, combining the baroque leanings of the Left Banke with the sinister undertow of Lee’s much more successful protégés, the Doors. Lee’s eerie compositions would prove prophetic — within two years, his beloved Sunset Strip was virtually empty in the wake of the Manson massacres, the ultimate “bummer in the summer.”

Rhino’s repackaging of this disc includes the usual alternate takes, including a hilarious “Your Mind and We Belong Together” with Lee exhorting and browbeating his poor bandmates (on Forever Changes, Lee used session men for many of the tracks, as the excellent liner notes point out). That track, and the wacked-out and over-the-edge “Laughing Stock,” are the high points of the reissue. The case can indeed be made that Forever Changes is the ugly stepsister to the more optimistic (and commercial) Pet Sounds, the sound of a genius mind dissolving into Owsleyville and megalomania, never to return intact (Lee is currently a guest of the California Department of Corrections).

Thrilling orchestrations and nightmare scenarios, coupled with wild-assed ambition: This disc is what made and makes the music of L.A. so glorious — infinitely prone to overkill and overstatement, and not afraid to fall into whatever chasm awaits. If you own no version of this masterpiece, get it immediately! (Johnny Angel)

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SELF SCIENTIFIC The Self Science (S.O.L.)

When Self Scientific released their single “Return” back in 1998, they struck a quick chord with disgruntled rap fanatics everywhere. The chorus — “Return/to the way we were/before the influx of drugs/and money occurred” — bespoke the frustration over hip-hop’s shift from transformer of the meek to pimped by the chic. At the same time, the refrain has become all too familiar among struggling artists bitter at their peers’ successes. Impressively, on their debut album, Self Scientific’s Chace Infinite and DJ Khalil live up to the anthem’s principle.

True to its title, The Self Science is more about personal introspection than about just endless brags and boasts. Chace is at his most honest when he talks about failed love affairs in “You Can’t Fall,” while he lays out his axioms on surviving life and strife on “Long Run” and “The Self Science.” But just to show he can also box with the best of them, his tenacious tenor strikes fast and hard on “Murderation,” “Best Part” and, especially, “Three Kings,” a collaboration with longtime colleague Krondon and Oakland’s Planet Asia. Equally impressive, DJ Khalil carves out a distinctly different soundscape from other producers, especially in his Latin-influenced taste for subtle, textural tracks rather than the same ol’ boom-bap. Whether it’s the shuffling bossa nova rhythms on “The Self Science,” the flowing guitar lines that infuse “Return” or the macabre organ stabs across “Dead Honest,” Khalil’s sounds are refreshingly organic and soothing in a world dominated by the aggression and artificiality of shiny studio production.

Like many underground artists, it’s taken Self Scientific a long time to assemble their debut — since the early ’90s, actually — but the patience has paid off handsomely. Self Scientific may not be able to return hip-hop to the way it was, but they may help it get to where it needs to go. (Oliver Wang)

EYEDENTITY at the Temple Bar, March 17

Sometimes I feel like trip-hop is just an excuse for threads of incredible music from several continents and four decades to tangle up in one genre. If that’s true, Diana Moreira Booker and Krishna Booker’s Eyedentity defines the term. The band is half blended family — the Bookers themselves met and married in 1994, and Diana is the daughter of renowned Brazilian jazz percussionist Airto Moreira and former Return to Forever vocalist Flora Purim, both of whom showed up onstage with their daughter Saturday night at the Temple Bar in Santa Monica.

Eyedentity has been around since 1997, but you get the feeling it only recently found its groove, with a recently released record, Perfect My Craft, and a protean ensemble of avatars representing just about every influence: guitarists Fabio Soares and Grecco Buratto trading off acid leads, keyboardist Rashid Duke and drummer Sandro Feliciano (whose facial expressions make him nearly as interesting to watch as he is to hear) and bassist Tony Black giving the whole mix a decidedly Afro-Brazilian jazz backbone. All of it comes together in Moreira, whose athletic singing is one of this music’s great joys — she orchestrates her soul-inflected vocals in perfect sync with Booker’s rap, but also manages a more ethereal range without sacrificing the warmth in her tone. She’s lovely to watch, beaming a smile that makes you think she knows what to do with that “residue from another life” that comes up in the lyrics.

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