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Squarepusher 

Go Plastic (Warp)

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Photo by Simon King“It’s going to be headbangin’,” said Squarepusher, a.k.a. London’s Tom Jenkinson, about his new album shortly before stunning the fried desert masses with his live performance at Coachella a few months ago. “Headbangin’,” however, doesn’t truly befit the riotous originality of the jazz-obsessed Pusherman’s fourth album and his best effort yet.

Though Jenkinson’s previous discs played out more like exercises in spliced break beats and noodly, jazz-fueled drum ’n’ bass, Go Plastic reaches for something far more aggressive. Squarepusher’s dub ’n’ bass experiments are about absorption, letting the sound soak into every spongy layer of your brain and trying to make sense of it all. Take the record’s first single, “My Red Hot Car,” a stuttering, skittery two-step jam that would climb the U.K. charts if Jenkinson weren’t intent on tweaking the rhythms and layering on effects that distinguish his version of electronic music as “experimental.” As such, though, it’s damn catchy. “Boneville Occident”’s delirious beats flail like a silver ball bouncing off bumpers and triggering flashing buzzers. The hyperkinetic “Go! Spastic” is a dub-drenched slice of jittery drum ’n’ bass that employs time-stretching to masterful effect.

Truly on some other shit, Jenkinson takes cues from ambient gurus The Orb with “The Exploding Psychology,” embarking on an expansive time-space continuum of classic electronic music and hip-hop sampling before the breakdown. The less startling “Wish You Could Talk” is gripping, atmospheric drum ’n’ bass, coaxing the listener into passivity before “Greenways Trajectory” wakes him from his slumber to deliver some uneasy listening. That track will likely be hated for its dissonance, but it’s just another adventure in Jenkinson’s sound travels, and a sweet reward for patient listeners. Headbanging isn’t just for headbangers anymore. (Stacy Osbaum)

 

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VARIOUS ARTISTS Nuggets II: Original Artyfacts From the British Empire and Beyond, 1964–1969 (Rhino)

Three years ago, Rhino Records’ four-CD expansion of Lenny Kaye’s renowned Nuggets collection gained massive acclaim and surprisingly strong sales, proving there’s still a widespread hunger for garage-spawned American lunacy of 1960s vintage. But while once-obscure U.S. acts like Love, the Sonics and the Chocolate Watchband have now been justifiably elevated to divine status, many music fans remain quite ignorant of their overseas contemporaries — the bands that emerged in the wake of the Beatles, the Stones, the Yardbirds and The Who, but which were too freaky, confrontational or just plain clueless to make their mark on this side of the pond. Some, like The Move and the Small Faces, were huge in the U.K. but enjoyed only token U.S. success. Others, like the Creation, the Smoke and the Pretty Things, somehow fared better in Europe than with their British countrymen. And then there were The Mops, a.k.a. “Japan’s first psychedelic band”; Los Shakers, the “Beatles of Uruguay,” who all looked like Ringo; the Golden Earrings, the Outsiders and Q65 from Holland; Thor’s Hammer from Iceland; Os Mutantes from Brazil; and thousands more. America might have had more garages per capita than any other country on Earth, but the snot-encrusted spirit of garage rock obviously knew no national boundaries.

Nuggets II has the rather unenviable task of trying to make sense of this international explosion of garage and psychedelia. That it actually succeeds (or at least comes close) is a friggin’ miracle, considering that the licensing issues alone must have been an absolute nightmare. Like its predecessor, this four-CD box makes no attempt to organize its contents by style, origin or date of release; what you get instead is a kaleidoscopic vomit of psych-pop, mod R&B, garage fuzz, freakbeat and other forms of paisley-clad weirdness. Those already familiar with this stuff will quibble about what’s missing — like, say, Jason Crest’s “Black Mass,” or the Lea Riders Group’s “Dom Kellar Os Mods” — but the sheer quantity of assembled riches far outweighs any oversights. (And really, how can you argue with a set that gives you gorgeously remastered versions of Tintern Abbey’s “Vacuum Cleaner,” Wimple Winch’s “Save My Soul” and the Open Mind’s “Magic Potion”?) A word of advice for newcomers: If you’re suddenly seized by the desire to wear frilly shirts while smoking opium and searching eBay for a mint copy of Kaleidoscope’s Tangerine Dream LP, don’t say you haven’t been warned. (Dan Epstein)

 

Ike Turner

IKE TURNER Here and Now (Ikon)

“Ike Turner releases first new album in 20 years,” a recent CNN Headline News bottom-of-the-TV-screen nugget read, “wants us to forget he took drugs, beat Tina.” The arrogance of such a dismissal is mind-bending. Turner filled an essential role in American music: He played on Howlin’ Wolf’s first recording session, among numerous key Memphis blues dates; he’s the man responsible for “Rocket 88,” generally acknowledged as the world’s first rock & roll song; and he went on to conquer pop music in its entirety with Tina & the Ikettes. Maybe if Ike, as Al Green did after the gunshot death of his girlfriend, had spent a few years doing penance as a rural preacher, media-whitey might be able to take off the blinders and assess him as an artist, rather than relentlessly portraying him as their favoritest batterer. Turner’s unsavory personal history can’t be condoned, but, when considering the sprawl of his extraordinary career, that’s another story. Disagree? Then add Sinatra (he bloodied Ava Gardner in ’52), Jackie Wilson and Jerry Lee Lewis to your list of violent dastards worthy of eternal vilification. Oh, don’t let us forget Jackson Browne.

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