Fear Of Pop

Fear Of Pop

Volume One

550/Sony Music

Ben Folds proves that he knows what to do with the rest of the instruments just as much as he does the piano. That includes electronica and drum/bass grooves and riffs, from smooth to frantic. And even though the disc jacket says “instrumental and spoken word music,” this is no soft poetic or tame beat jive, but a variety of vocal styles, in attitudes and deliveries. Also, Ben Folds turns into Ben Foley as he plays sound effects like instruments. Turns out to be solid and rockin’ enough to get you completely danced and confused.

“Kops” is a shoot ’em up cop car chasin’ crashin’ full of hi-powered resistance to arrest. “Slow Jam ’98” is best described as early Art Of Noise meets Burt Bacharach, in the lightweight division. As opposed to the heavy weight division, where they meet again (in exactly the opposite ways) in “Avery M. Powers Memorial Beltway” though things still seem to end amiably.

William Shatner encapsulates the time line of many a love affair in “In Love.” He begins tenderly and blissfully, then builds confidence into a neurotic frenzy of honesty iced with a melancholic justification, and then just the memories. All the while a Carpenter-like chorus chimes underneath him. “Still In Love” condenses and digests the idea even further in a much more delicate and refined manner.

Trance-crazed “Root To This” delivers a bawdy gaudy lube’n’groove. In a funky King Missile meets King Crimson “I Paid My Money,” Ben and his electronic friends explain why they will enjoy the movie.

I’ll leave a few for you to figure out when you hear it. Something tells me Ben has a lot more musical tricks up many a sleeve and this could just be a calling card for more ideas outside of Ben Folds Five. Sony Music, 550 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022

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