On record :: KJHK new music reviews

Bjrk, "Medulla"

C+

Bjrk's got balls. Over the past decade, she's maintained a celebrity hugeness here in the states by doing one simple thing: being herself. Her music has a personal uniqueness that is often as disturbing as it is breathtaking, which keeps her at a creative distance from other "divas." She's adventurous, which usually pays off.

Unfortunately on Medulla, Bjrk's 7th album, the music becomes secondary to the experiment, being that the album is nearly 100 percent vocals. It seems this would be a natural step to take considering she is mostly known for her erratic yet tuneful shrieks and belts, but after a few tracks it becomes apparent that Bjrk may have had some ideas in mind for Medulla, but not a lot of songs. Much of the album resorts to layering vocal track after vocal track of panting or animal noises underneath a simple melodic idea that might have been cool if something else besides vocals had gone into it. There are many awesome performances that show Bjrk is still at the top of the heap as a vocalist, it would just be nice if the songs were as good as the singing.

On some songs, like "Who Is It" (the album's best song and most likely the single), the production is a little more listener/radio friendly and there are a few instruments to fill in space. There are also moments where the song is not compromised but actually heightened by solely a barrage of vocal tracks, like in the sexy opener "Pleasure Is All Mine." Those moments are few and far between, however, and for the most part, Medulla is a tough listen. It proves Bjrk is still attempting to push herself and all of her fans into new musical dimensions, and that's admirable enough. But there's a thin line between experiment and nonsense, a line she may have crossed in making this album.

Cameron Hawk

Plow the Fields, Saturdays 2-4pm

Beatbroker and Brother of Moses, "Not Your Average EP"

A-

The Lawrence/KC sprawl has been a hotbed of hip-hop lately. Scratch that, it's been a hot bedroom. New releases have been dropping like Tastycakes into ODB's mouth, so fast in fact that something is bound to miss out on the shine it so rightfully deserves. Something like KC denizens Beatbroker and Brother of Moses' humbly packaged 3-song burner, the Not Your Average EP. It's a safe pairing -- even though Bro Mo usually waxes poetic over the beats of fellow Deep Thinker Leonard D. Stroy, he and Beatbroker have been mainstays of the KC metro for a while now, with Beatbroker even putting in some work on Deep Thinkers' last LP, Necks Move. History aside, it's wondrous after hearing this collaboration why it hasn't happened before.

Despite Midwest hip-hop's tradition of taking inspiration from both coasts, Beatbroker's productions evoke memories of NYC circa '94. Cinematic Orchestra-like flourishes, languid jazz guitar and layered chimes get all wrapped up in Beatbroker's heavier-than-thou low end, most notable in the hard-hitting title track and the molasses stroll bass of "Slaves Under Capital." With the words, Bro Mo brings the righteous ruckus, pontificating on topics like our oppressive system of capitalism, all the while recognizant of the fact that he's "about to break out the bread basket." With a voice equally rough-hewn and warm, Bro Mo's flow lends itself to many production styles. This EP is available only on vinyl, so all you non-turntable owners get the bozack. Sorry. But for all the wax heads out there, don't be surprised when your chiropractor's all like "Upper vertebrae damage, abnormal nodding motion, blah blah blah" As Bro Mo matter-of-factly states on "Not Your Average": "This is the Midwest, why you wanna front?"

Phil Torpey

Breakfast for Beatlovers, Fridays 9-noon

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