Splendid E-zine presents

our weekly collection of shorter reviews

Fun'da'mental, Tanguay/Walsh, Apocalypse Theater, The Rough Guide to Native American Music
Distorted Underground, The Subhumans, Fantastic Plastic Machine, Industrial Tepee

Fun'da'mental / Erotic Terrorism / Beggars Banquet (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Oh Lord!"
Imagine Pop Will Eat Itself mobilized with a political/humanistic agenda and the intent to rouse Black and Asian kids to action in the racial tinderbox of nineties England. Propa-Gandhi and DJ Impi D will get their message into your head, even if they have to batter their way in with thunderous beats and badass samples. And the message, which ultimately involves basic human rights for all, isn't a hard sell anyway. The most apathetic kids are going to listen to this for the music, but the ideas are bound to get through eventually. -- gz

Tanguay/ Walsh / Midi Tapant / Ambiances Magnetiques (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Une Petite Douleur"
A CD dedicated more to the voluptuousness of space and its drifting surroundings than to precision and structure, midi Tapant is the latest electroacoustical offering from Canada. With Pierre Tanguay manning the batterie and Tom Walsh providing accompaniment on trombone et échantillonneur, this duo delivers a subtle approach to the interpretation and delivery of experimental musical stimulations. With compositions ranging from passively melodic to belligerently caustic, the CD sounds like a soundtrack to an unmade film, or perhaps an outlandish, operatic score. -- am

Apocalypse Theater / Cain or an Open Vein / Hollows Hill (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Slaughterhaus X"
The curious multitudes are going to gravitate to Apox's gothified take on "Time After Time" -- which is kind of a shame, because most of the original music on Cain is superior to the rather aimless Cyndi Lauper hand-me-down. The title track is a particularly striking bit of goth fun and though the disc occasionally hits the doldrums, the black-clad legions should be well-pleased with it. As for the Gap-clad legions...well, that'll be a harder sell. -- gz

Various Artists / Rough Guide to Native American Music / World Music Network (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Cuatro Vidas Polka"
When World Music Network's The Rough Guide to Native American Music turned up in my listening pile, I had preconceptions about its content. I was hoping for a collection of traditional Native American Music. What I found were only a couple of songs falling into this category, with the majority of tracks highlighting various areas of contemporary Native American popular music. As far as this goes, like any pop sampler it is a mixed bag, but you'll hear something new and you just might find something you like. Surely the most peculiar song on the disc is the polka-like, chicken scratch music of "Cuatro Vidas Polka". -- nw

Various Artists / Distorted Underground / Nesak/Kado (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of The Horrorist's "Mission Extacy"
Some of the music here is borderline gabber, and your recommended daily allowance of thrumming, over-modulated bass beats will definitely be met, but there's far less bland linearity on this compilation than you might expect. Many of the tracks here are reminiscent of the halcyon days of nu-beat and rave-techno -- mid-tempos, sampled guitars and found "lyrics" full of sex-and-drug references. Mission Extacy's "The Horrorist", in particular, is done in the grand old Wax Trax!/Antler style you used to love (didn't you?). -- gz

The Subhumans / Unfinished Business / Bluurg (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Curl Up and Die"
It seems as if nary a day passes when you won't see a teenager patrolling the streets, armed with a Subhumans tee shirt. The resilience of this anarcho-punk band, whose songs date back to the early 80's, must mean something, eh? Unfinished Business compiles four songs from '81-'83 as well as three tunes the band rerecorded in '98. The Subhumans' patented sound is solidly displayed, combining sneering, limey-accentuated vocals, trebly guitar and tuneful bass lines into a pugnacious and socially conscious entity that can only be described as gravely opinionated! Could thousands of crusty punk kid fans (and older critics) worldwide be wrong? -- am

Fantastic Plastic Machine / The Fantastic Plastic Machine / Emperor Norton (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Steppin' Out"
Yes, this is more bubbly-happy Japanese retro-futuristic pop, but it deserves your attention as more than just part of a crowd. In addition to making more use of vocal samples than some of their contemporaries, FPM haul in heavy-hitter guest vocalists like (Pizzicato Five's) Maki Nomiya and the delightful Laila France. And even if most of this sets your teeth on edge, the poolside-samba cover of Joe Jackson's execrable "Steppin' Out" is a low-key delight. -- gz

Industrial Tepee / What Divine Engine / Mother West (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Crawling to Heaven"
Think swamp blues monster crashing the British Invasion -- that's a good (albeit fanciful) approximation of Industrial Tepee's What Divine Engine. It's rootsy, folk rock blended with just enough pop sophistication to keep the city kids comfortable. Despite this general comparison, keep in mind that Ween drummer Claude Coleman Jr. is co-producer on this, so flagrant genre orthodoxy shouldn't be expected. -- nw

nw - noah wane | gz - george zahora | am - andrew magilow

home reviews boombox features ten misc