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Music Reviews

Funkstorung

Funkstorung

Appendix

K7!

The remix has become a fascinating musical outlet for many producers and electronic acts, primarily as it is most often a medium with which the remixers can expand upon or further define their signature sound and style.

For the now defunct electronica duo Funkstorung, whose remix work was much in demand by artists as disparate as Jean-Michel Jarre and Wu-Tang Clan, this meant liberally applying their glassine tones and skittering beats while sprinkling in elements of the original song, usually a keyboard or bass hook.

The most well-known of their remixes is their reinventions of Bjork’s lilting ode “All Is Full Of Love” (one of which is featured on this collection). The original whispers through the stratosphere, pushed gently along by strings and harps. In the hands of Christian de Luca and Michael Fakesch, the song is no less rhapsodizing, but instead lumbers along in a fuzzy, rattling haze. The Icelandic singer’s voice is often pushed far into the background, singing from a cavernous hold within the high tech high rise that the duo built atop the lush forest she once resided in.

The remixes don’t seem as revelatory as they did when they first were released in 1998 — especially in retrospect of the groundbreaking work that all three artists have done since — but it is still gratifying to be reminded how unafraid Bjork is of having her music turned inside out on occasion and how smart she is in choosing who gets to do the imploding.

The majority of the other tracks on this posthumous collection don’t do much to take a song apart, preferring (most likely at the remixee’s behest) to make sure recognizable elements are there so as not to worry the artist’s fans. For example, The Raveonettes’ “Love In A Trashcan” maintains the original’s rockabilly guitar licks and disaffected vocals, but matches them with a tinny, pop-lock beat that threatens at times to disintegrate into a million pixels. Elsewhere, the original fluttering, music box backing track of Lamb’s “Heaven” is eschewed in favor of a gurgling shuffle while still retaining Lou Rhodes’ slinky vocal track.

Funkstorung: www.funkstorung.com

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Music Reviews

Goldfrapp

Goldfrapp

Black Cherry

Mute

Giving listeners the best reason to get on the dance floor, or get it on (or both, if you’re in the right club), Black Cherry is the intensely sensual trip-hop follow up to 2000’s Felt Mountain. Goldfrapp retains the chill cinematic soundscapes they are known for on tracks like “Hairy Trees,” as they begin to explore a newfound aural erogenous zone. This strangely danceable album drips with innuendo and dark, throbbing synthesizers. Alison Goldfrapp’s cabaret vocals and orgasmic moans are hauntingly beautiful when set against Will Gregory’s opulent keyboard sequences. “Strict Machine” thrusts with an industrial, S&M intensity, while the sonic striptease of a bassline on “Train” alone will have you searching for a condom. When Alison coos, “Put your dirty angel face /between my legs/ and knicker lace,” you’re more than willing to oblige.

Goldfrapp: http://www.goldfrapp.co.uk

Categories
Event Reviews

Lamb

Lamb

with Kid Kenobi

Enmore, Sydney, Australia • April 16, 2002

Lamb are an oft-misunderstood band. Known by some as “That girl with the weird voice,” sneered at by others as a cheap imitation of Portishead, they’ve really never been the center of attention. They’ve soldiered on regardless, though, and tonight, 3 000 people are glad they did. In the packed Enmore, all eyes are on stage: the husky charisma of Lou Rhodes (vocals) and the exuberant energy of Andy Barlow (knob twiddling, keys) has taken over. Already massaged by hours of chilled beats and breaks courtesy of support DJ Kid Kenobi, a cornucopia of Sydney’s most extravagant and hip know they’re in for a treat from the first plaintive note of Rhodes’ red wine voice.

“We’ve waited so long to come here,” Rhodes purrs, and the crowd feel all fuzzy inside, as luscious stabs of double bass reverberate. Lamb have brought a full band with them, and the energy of three extra stage-players is fierce. A blind eye is turned to Andy’s soccer-hooligan yelling at less-than-appropriate intervals: he’s having fun, and that’s all that matters. Besides, his audio manipulation (accompanied tonight by a stunning, psychedelic backdrop of manipulated live visuals) is definitive proof that there’s more to Lamb than grinning enthusiasm.

By the time Lamb return for their first encore, the buzzing audience is wet from sweat and tears (Lou delivered a stunningly emotional rendition of their new release, “Gabriel,” moments earlier). As the opening chords of “Gorecki” — their mid-nineties ambient classic — fill the room, a majestic hush falls. Perhaps it’s the bout of spontaneous meditation Andy just led us in that is allowing the music to resonate so deeply, or maybe it’s the look on Lou’s face, illuminated by the camera and hanging from the wall behind her. Gorecki seeps into the air and I count a dozen people around me sobbing. No wonder Lamb aren’t too worried about their reputation.

http://www.lambstar.net

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Music Reviews

Café Del Mar

Café Del Mar

Volume 8

MCA

Usually, Café Del Mar releases are somewhat upbeat and musically eccentric, but Volume Eight fails to live up to the other seven. Despite the overall dullness of this compilation, there are some highlights: Dido offers a great slow and beating “Worthless,” Mari Bone does “Gula Gula” (an electronic world fan’s wet dream), a vocally driven “100 Billion Stars” by Lux and a super tranquil “Pina Colada” served up by Digby Jones. This volume also includes Goldfrapp, Afterlife, Tiny Tunes, and Lamb. The only problem with Volume Eight is that it’s Café Del Mar, the leader of the Ibizian pack, not “Joe’s Ibizian Music,” so the standards are set very high. It’s not the worst album by any degree, it just isn’t the same quality you’d expect from a Del Mar release.

MCA Records, 2220 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90404; http://www.mcarecords.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Lamb/Leomoon

Lamb

Fear of Fours

Fontana/Mercury

Leomoon

Leomoon

Topaz

Turn back, I beg of you, while you still can, there’s nothing here but broken promises, missed opportunities and so much worthless genre hopping. That’s addressed to you, the readers. To the bands, I have only to say: please stop playing this shit music and make some sort of worthwhile contribution like, say, a Motley Crue cover band. I made this perfectly clear when I attempted an objective review of the Weed record last month; my patience for these boy-girl/trip-hop/rip-off/mature-jungle/Portishead-stealing/Bjork-wanna-being bands has worn down to nothing at all.

So now I have to take the gloves off, my hand has been forced. What are the defining points of this genre? 1. Breathy, enigmatic, mysterious (read: “forced”) female vocals (usually painfully limited range) mixed WAY up at the front. 2. Purposely oblique lyrics that usually border on the laughably absurd. Leomoon’s contribution to this distinguished field is “Pepsi-Cola makes me sticky.” 3. Piss-poor hip-hop/lukewarm jungle/tepid sampling workouts courtesy of anonymous boy member of band. 4. Themes of longing and loss that will make you wish you were one of the robotic Kraftwerk puppets just to distance yourself as much as possible from these supposedly “shared” emotions. A genre destined for self-extinction by its own restrictive limitations. Yet it endures.

Listen, Tricky got it right, Portishead got it right, Massive Attack got it right, and that’s pretty much it. When was that? 1996? The 1996 revival continues. The Creatures are the ONLY late arrival to this field that I can even take seriously, so its funny that Lamb, in a desperate bid for self-survival, have added house elements and pretty much completely aped Siouxsie’s vocal performance from “Anima Animus.” But then, I’m sure they’d deny the whole thing. Lamb have sputtered out this second dismal record, and are coasting on the remixes, while Leomoon’s career is over before it even began, as far as I can tell. To conclude: the only audience for this watered-down, pseudo-dance, pantomime drum n’ bass nonsense is thirty-something couples who are trying to impress one another with their artsy-ness on the first date without offending the other’s delicate sensibilities. So when faced with listening to the soundtrack to polite but earnest conversation about, y’know, life and stuff, I’ll pass. More conservative than George W.