Tuesday, February 3, 2004
Express Rising (Memphix)
The man behind Express Rising's curtain of wizardry is the notorious wax guru Dante Carfagna. (Carfagna served time under expatriate Public Enemy member Professor Griff's tutelage doing beats until threading his way into the vocab of beatlovers everywhere via his acquaintance with DJ Shadow.) With this subdued debut, Carfagna has crafted a solid album that plateaus but never quite peaks.
The downtempo charm of the album supports the suspicion that many of the samples and breaks on the disc were extracted from Carfagna's mind-boggling 45 collection. Only two tracks -- the Pete Rock-esque "Comfortable With Failure" and the wobbly robot bass/boom-bap equation of "Neighborhood (Gentrified)" -- even attempt to rush things. Strengthened by the swirling reveries of the closing pair "Ice Stopped" and "Cardinal, Fly How?," Express Rising's debut shows respect for the past and promise for the future.
Beatlovers, 9-Noon Tuesdays
Jonny Greenwood -- guitarist and general noisemaker for Radiohead -- is the first of the quintet to release a solo album. It is the soundtrack to Simon Pummell's Bodysong, a film montage that represents the fundamentals of human existence through the last century of celluloid. With his soundtrack Greenwood pulls from the last hundred years of avant-garde music. Using a mixture of MIDI instrumentation, a string quartet, a jazz band, and antique instruments, the album moves from Phillip Glass through John Cage stopping somewhere around Aphex Twin and Billy Bang. The outcome is more daring and abstract than anything Radiohead has ever produced.
Voice Activated, Tuesdays 7-8
The Revolution Smile
Above the Noise (Flawless/Interscope)
Shaun Lopez rejected Fred Durst's offer to fill Limp Bizkit's previous guitar vacancy to start his own thing as lead singer and guitarist with The Revolution Smile. The band's debut album should be held in high, hard rock regard with Helmet and Soundgarden fans. Out of Seattle, this four-man blitz is gritty and solid. The guitar work is far from over-the-top and Lopez's vocals, though nothing revolution-like, resonate in the under belly of post 90's grunge. Yet the album lacks lyrical depth and avoids new themes. At times Above the Noise is below the noise, and falls into background bland. Though there are no surprises here, if you're sick of Nickelback and Puddle of Mudd, these guys will fill the void.
New Music Rotation, Monday 9-midnight
Najite Olokun Prophecy
Africa Before Invasion (SoFa Disk)
Najite Olokun Prophecy's latest album, Africa Before Invasion, is as warm an introduction as any to West African music. Though the band's leader Najite Agindotan creates music with a more contemporary and worldly aesthetic (he seems to draw from various global influences including American jazz and European downtempo), he is still very solidly rooted in the West African tradition of music-making established by folks like his godfather -- the legendary Fela Kuti. Fans of contemporary African Pop will wholeheartedly embrace this album, and fans of jazz, reggae, downtempo, and lounge will find much to appreciate here as well. The songs are characteristically African. Sets are longer and the lyrics are largely sung in a call and response fashion, however the album has an easy flow. Though its richness warrants an attentive listening, the album does not demand one -- making it the perfect backdrop to a social gathering or a relaxing evening at home.
Voice Activated, Tuesdays 7-8
Delhi9 -- Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Huber's fourth proper album together -- adds a pop feel to Tosca's traditional downtempo, chilled-out lounge grooves. This is particularly the case on the few tracks that feature vocalists, a new addition to Tosca's sound. Many of these voices are also whispered and often looped as short catchy phrases a la their 1999 album Suzuki. These smooth rhythmic phrases have become a Tosca trademark, and Dorfmeister and Huber have stick to this recipe, which has worked so well. Tosca does spacey, tripped out downtempo better than anyone, and Delhi9 certainly won't disappoint. The release also comes with a bonus disc of ambient piano pieces by Huber.
Breakfast for Beatlovers, Tuesdays 9-Noon