Ralph Myerz and the Jack Herren Band

Ralph Myerz and the Jack Herren Band

A Special Album

Emperor Norton

Ralph Myerz and the Jack Herren Band are a delightfully energetic live act, something all too rarely experienced in electronic club music. Inspired both by trance music’s instrumentation and KISS’s pyro effects, the trio brilliantly convey visually the hypnotic power of their best songs. On album, however, Ralph Myerz has, perhaps wisely, decided to hold back on the energy, instead emphasizing melody and variation. It’s a bold move, and an effective one too — live music is, after all, better experienced live than in your own home. But as it is, this is only valid where the material itself is actually strong enough to stand up on its own.

As with KISS, Ralph Myerz delivers a far-too-uneven studio set, capturing neither the energy nor the humor of the live show. Sure, there are some splendid moments, notably the groovier chill-out tracks: “Nikita,” “Think Twice” and the fine “Here Is Love.” But elsewhere, songs like “Funky Biznizz,” “Savannah” and “Casino” unsuccessfully try to make the transition from exciting live material to interesting studio tracks.

At their best, Ralph Myerz &anp; Co. are reminiscent of the best from Coldcut’s once relevant Ninja Tune label, sharp and focused electronic music that defies the lounge that spawned it. And for those moments, A Special Album actually lives up to its semi-ironic cheesy-’70s title. It’s far from a uniform success, but there is still more than enough on here to warrant the “exciting & upcoming” label awarded to these guys by electronic music media.

Emperor Norton: http://www.emperornorton.com/

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