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The Music Guide - March 2002

Boards of Canada - Geogaddi (Warp)

The latest record by Scottish band Boards of Canada (Marcus Eoin and Michael Sandison) is without question the most anticipated electronic record to come out in a long time. The last full-length by the duo, 1998's Music Has the Right to Children, was one of those records that simply everybody liked. I don't remember hearing a single negative thing from anyone about this amazing, if not terribly innovative recording.

The band must realize that they were onto something because their latest Geogaddi is a strikingly similar record, almost to the point of fault. In fact, if it weren't so damn beautiful I would probably criticize the band for not trying something new.

Similar to Music, the playful sounds of children's voices (often distorted by waterlogged tape loops and eerie vocoders) textures many songs on the disk. And as to be expected, the interior artwork of the record again has images of children playing. Their trademark blend of synths and chilled-out hip hop beats abounds, though scratching has mostly been sacrificed in favor of tape looping. Also, the beats are much more subdued on Geogaddi and have less of a hip hop feel to them.

A general sense of foreboding gives way to downright darkness on this outing. Equally beautiful as it is creepy, "Dawn Chorus" has the slowed-down sound of a warped record played over funky beats and contains samples of voices that could either be cries of bliss or muted groans of terror. The band has a knack for suggesting the sinister in the disorienting context of beautiful melodies.

The material found on Geogaddi may not be as strong as that found on Music (though the track "1969" is as lovely as anything they have recorded) but it is still undoubtedly a solid release that will please fans and newcomers to the band alike.


Princess Superstar - Princes Superstar Is (Rapster)

The title Princess Superstar Is begs for a blank to be filled in, so here I go: Princess Superstar is lame, only hype, not talented, only popular because she sings about her pussy, unoriginal, boring, embarrassingly outshined by her all-star cast, going to be filling the bargain bins very soon, and a waste of your money.

Don't buy into the hype. She only shines when she sharing the spotlight with Kool Keith and for one track (2 if you include the remix), your money could be much better spent.



Lambchop - Is A Woman (Merge)

Amazingly, Lambchop is a 20-piece band. They are also one of the quietist bands I can think of. Twenty people could make more noise just being in the same room breathing. And this has never been more true than on their latest release Is a Woman.

Despite the enormous size of the band, Lambchop has always essentially been about the music, artsy lyric writing, guitar, and voice of Nashville frontman Kurt Wagner. On this outing the piano of Tony Crow has replaced Wagner's usual guitar accompaniment as front instrument creating an all new sound that will certainly surprise fans of the band. Though Wagner's distinctive spoken-word singing style remains the same, Lambchop has completely abandoned alt-country in favor of loungey, soulful, and melancholy ballads.

My biggest criticism is that many tracks are too similar in style to really distinguish themselves from one another. Regardless, songs such as "The New Cobweb Summer" with its lovely piano licks and subtle saxophone make this record worth owning even if the last record Nixon was a superior release. I doubt Is a Woman will win any new converts, but fans of Lambchop will be pleased if not a little sleepy after hearing this surprising new release. And as always, listeners will be better off ignoring the lyrics which vary from funny, to artsy fartsy, to plain retarded.



Neil Halstead - Sleeping On Roads (4AD)

These days every soft-spoken folkster with a British accent, and even some without (Elliot Smith, for one), draws comparisons to Nick Drake. It's a goddamn crime. Really. For nearly a week I've been trying to get my head around Neil Halstead's debut solo album, Sleeping On Roads, but I keep coming around to the same conclusion: He sounds just like Nick Drake. It kills me to say it, just kills me, but it's true.

Framed by pneumatic string and horn arrangements, Halstead's wanderlust carries him through a landscape littered with old flames, fantasy vistas, and stormy memories that mark the miles. Like Drake, Halstead - Mojave 3's front man by day -- projects the fragile sensibility of a songwriter who spends much of his time alone, laboring over an acoustic in sparse, unlit rooms.

According to his bio, he wrote and recorded parts of this album while living in the studio for two months. His exile was not exactly self-imposed. He split with his girl and wound up heartbroken and homeless. At least something good came of it.



Point - Cornelius (Matador)

I must face facts.... I'm a snob when it comes to electronic music .When it comes to Rock and Pop, I have many fluffy vices like Madonna, Sade, and um...Hall and Oates. But when it comes to electronic music, I am just too demanding. Luomo is about the closest I come to fluff.

That said, I must admit I was surprised to like a couple of tracks of Point, the new record by Cornelius. Cornelius is a Japanese cut and paste artist who somehow won the critics over with his horrible Fantasma that was as spastic and overwrought as it was dull. Oddly, all one needs do to win good words from critics these days is to assemble a record (regardless of how awful it sounds) utilizing 5 million samples and influences. Cornelius and The Avalanches are prime examples of this.

Thankfully, on Point, Cornelius has matured somewhat as a musician and seems to be focusing more on melody than on creating complex collages. The result is syrupy, poppy, and less spastic, but frankly not very good. But at least it is a step in the right direction and seems more controlled than previous efforts. However, his beautiful cover of "Brazil" and the Stereolab-influenced track "Point of View Point" are simply lovely and nearly make the record worth owning.


Select Cuts From Blood & Fire Chapter 2 (Select Cuts)

Select Cuts I missed Chapter 1, but will definitely be picking it up after immersing myself in the funky and tripped-out dub to be found on Chapter 2. Select Cuts has put together a great compilation of reworkings of classic dub greats such as King Tubby, Lee Perry, and Scientist by younger dub and electronic bands and musicians.

Though the glitchy, minimal dub style coming out of Germany is largely ignored on Select Cuts, the record showcases a mixture of sounds influenced equally by drum and bass, hip hop, and techno. Remix artists include Leftfield, Dubphonic, Kid Loco, Jah Wobble, and most notably Apollo 440 on the endlessly funky remix of Yabby You. Fifteen consistently strong tracks in length, Select Cuts From Blood & Fire Chapter 2 is not to be missed.




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[email protected] | March 2002 | Issue 24
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