Splendid E-zine presents

our weekly collection of shorter reviews

Underworld, C.O. Jones, Traveler '99, Brown25
Passion Planet, Sally Anthony, Funki Porcini, Platypus

Underworld / Beaucoup Fish / V2 (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Shudder/King of Snake"
Underworld's music has always aspired to epic proportions, and their music has a human warmth that's all too rare within their subset of the electronic music pantheon. Messrs. Emerson, Hyde and Smith have even realized that it's okay to add new elements to their techno soundscapes after the first 120 seconds; as a result, Underworld's music rarely makes dull listening, even at its most linear. Beaucoup Fish pushes the envelope a bit, offering several mellower, chillout-styled tracks as well as a sort of futuristic hip-hop experiment ("Bruce Lee"), Still, what wins the day is the epic-length dance tracks -- in particular "Shudder/King of Snake", which borrows the indelible keyboard line from Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" and gives it enough deep house flavor and beatbox-driven energy to dominate a club floor for nearly ten minutes. -- gz

C.O. Jones / Wreckuiem for the Legatines / Blown Woofer Entertainment (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Gone Forever Never Coming Back"
Like a quick jaunt through 90's alternative radio, the second release by this teenage Kentucky quintet emanates Pearl Jam-style crooning ("Wreckuiem for the Legatines"), Metallica's hard/soft metal-riffing ("Gone Forever Never Coming Back") and an occasional hyper-aggressive moment a la Tool. While weighted more towards a distinct metal sound, Wreckuiem... also has its melodic moments, which save it from lapsing into another banal high-school band recording. C.O. Jones may not be the most unique band, but its members definitely display songwriting complexity and capable music skills that make for a promising, hard-rock future. -- am

Various Artists / Traveler '99 / Six Degrees (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of Celtic Cross' "Darshannon"
The pursuit of intriguing samples has already led most dance music creators to incorporate world music sounds and rhythms in their compositions. While this often results in creative and exciting music, it has also brought a frightening number of beatbox/ didgeridoo/sitar atrocities into the world. Traveler '99 wisely concentrates on obvious (and largely unheard) successes, including DJ Cheb i Sabbah's post-raga "Ganga Dev", Wally Brill's densely evocative "A Loop in Time" and Banco de Gaia's enveloping "I Love Baby Cheesy (Skippy Mix)". Celtic Cross' "Darshannon" combines (not too surprisingly) Celtic fiddle and throbbing techno beats; given the predominantly Eastern/African bias of the rest of the disc, it winds up being the most memorable track. If you've had a decent exposure to World music and its electronica applications, nothing on Traveler '99 will leave you open-mouthed and drooling, but the quality remains high throughout. -- gz

Brown25 / Brown25 / The Bionic Milk Plant (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Not So Fresh"
I imagine Mr. Brown25 flinches every time he hears the "B" word. No, the other "B" word, the one that rhymes with "schmeck" (hint for the slow: four letters, begins with "B", ends in "eck" -- ed). That's okay though, because he does the many instruments (guitar, kazoo, fife, sitar, etc.)/phat beats/filtered vocals thing quite well. While some of the tunes are so "B"-like that they're distracting to listen to ("Stool Sample", for instance), most sport a nice mix of bleeps, buzzes, beats and silly lyrics. -- ib

Various Artists / Passion Planet: Songs of Love From Around the World / Juna (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of S.E. Rogie's "Nyalomei Luange"
If you go into your local record shop, you'll probably find a few compilations of so-called "Love Songs". Most of them -- especially the newer ones -- are painfully saccharine affairs dominated by the Whitneys, Mariahs and Glorias our Culture Industry has worked so hard to promote. Passion Planet is the remedy for such rubbish: a globe-spin worth of sincere, honest songs of love, passion and devotion. Unless you mostly purchase the wares of the aforementioned prefab divas, you've probably heard of a few of the artists represented here -- Loreena McKennitt, Ravi Shankar or perhaps even S.E. Rogie. The other artists run the global gamut from South America to India, Africa, China and the Carribean, offering a wide variety of songs and languages. Brief but thorough liner notes help you climb the inevitable language barrier and open your ears to, quite literally, a world of passion. -- gz

Sally Anthony / One Word Poetry Contest / Elsie (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "They Say"
Sally Anthony's One Word Poetry Contest is a five-track Christian pop affair. Unfortunately, Anthony's musical sensibilities are too derivative of Alannis Morissette, etc. for me to get into it much. Also, the coyly seductive cover art doesn't quite fit the disc's less-than-seductive Christian leanings. Oh well, better luck next time! -- nw

Funki Porcini / Ultimately Empty Million Pounds / Ninja Tune (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "123,3,4"
Mr. Porcini should be a bit more careful with his titles -- this one is just begging critics to let slip the dogs of negative word-play. And the disc itself, which seems at times to be a send-up/indictment of media culture and consumerism, contains some clever samples and good moments, but as a whole slips past my radar in a blur of generic electronica. Even the best tracks here seem only 75% finished, missing some crucial element that will give them personality and uniqueness. Sans these intangibles, the album sounds unfinished. And that's a shame, because it forces me to tell you that despite Funki Porcini's best efforts and intentions, Ultimately Empty Million Pounds is...well, ultimately pretty empty. -- gz

Platypus / Ninja Monster / Weird Dreams (7")

Sample 30 seconds of "Tron Pussy Warfare"
With band member credits including "human interest," "martian (sic) arts" and "cable guy," this fearsome Finnish foursome lets loose a volley of noisy electronic experiments. Hyperactive keyboards, screeching guitars and incomprehensible, distorted vocals are all part of the mix, and you're sure to experience a pleasant aural overload! Platypus scorns the conventional "avant-noise" approach, offering a hypnotic, slightly offensive listening experience that's not entirely inaccessible, but tainted just enough to tweak your curiosity. -- am

nw - noah wane | gz - george zahora | am - andrew magilow | ib - irving bellemead

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