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Week of September 25, 2000

[lift your skinny fists]
Godspeed You Black Emperor! / Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven / Kranky

While describing their music as "profound" would be going too far, their records and live performances seem to tap a well of primal energy, connecting with listeners at some fundamental, almost trance-inducing level. Instrumental to this image is a healthily pompous attitude. I mean, shit...this is an instrumental group, right? And they're releasing a double album. With four songs on it. You've got to be a little bit arrogant to pull off something like that...more»

[felt mountain]
Goldfrapp / Felt Mountain / Mute

You might not know it, but you’ve probably heard Allison Goldfrapp's siren-like vocals before. She has contributed her impressive singing skills to a host of albums -- most notably Tricky’s trip-hop opus Maxinquaye and Orbital’s seminal Snivilisation and Middle of Nowhere albums. Felt Mountain finds the sultry songstress working under her own name, joining forces with composer Will Gregory to create a truly captivating album...more»

Chris Lee / Self-Titled / Misra

With a silky croon that gives Alex Chilton a run for his money, Lee spins a web of heartbreak that ensnares you and wraps you in coils of chiming melody. Despite his love-gone-wrong focus, he avoids both whining self-pity and retaliatory venom. In fact, the meanest he gets is on "Baby Belle", in which he states, "I'll make millions when I sing these songs about you". Although he may not make millions, he will assuredly make people sit up and take notice...more»

DJ Micro / DJmixed.com/micro / Moonshine

This remix/production effort is fairly eclectic -- rather than pinning himself down with remixes of one particular style, DJ Micro has selected tracks from a wide variety of house and trance, and added his signature acidbreakbeat/trancey feel. In the album's early moments, heavy breakbeats are the focus -- particularly the second and third tracks, respectively "Freebase" and "f". Mid-album, Micro settles into solid, beat-heavy pieces that get the sweat flying...more»

[rising for sunset: live in L.A.]
Gene / Rising for Sunset: Live in L.A. / Contra

Gene, having dumped their label and having no new album or tour in the US for the last three years, flew to L.A. in June of this year and played three days of sold-out concerts at the Troubadour in West Hollywood. On the third day, Rising for Sunset was recorded live. As other critics have pointed out, such a move takes brass -- or at least innate faith in one's talent. Gene's faith in itself is well deserved. You'll either love Gene or -- if you're a serious fan of the Smiths -- be mildly offended...more»

[the haunted made me do it]
The Haunted / The Haunted Made Me Do It / Earache

Let me tell you about this Swedish death metal quintet. They help me make it through the day. On their second Earache release, there's no disputing the fact that the Haunted play retro-fitted thrash that can kill you with its speed and bury you with its heavy and thundering riffs. However, it's anything but '80s sounding; the bottom-heavy bass will envelop you in a ferocious tempest of up-to-date production and an unquestionable ability to create modern metal rather than copying the past...more»

[painter's spring]
The William Parker Trio / Painter's Spring / Thirsty Ear

If you buy Painter's Spring for no other reason than to add William Parker's brilliant rendition of "Come Sunday" to your music collection, it's still worth it. A bassist, Mr. Parker is a bastion of the NYC free-jazz community and his pedigree shows in this highly stylized -- albeit mellow -- interpretation of the Ellington classic. It reminds me of a very old Cecil Taylor finally putting aside the freneticism of his youth in favor of a more laid-back groove, but maintaining fathomless depth and intelligence...more»

[presence II]
Various Artists / Presence II / CEC

Pretty much anyone with a functioning cochlea will find something to like on this massive collection of recent electroacoustic works from members of the Canadian Electroacoustic Community (Communauté électroacoustique canadienne). 34 pieces from 32 composers in 11 countries can seem a bit daunting at first, but a taste for surprising sounds and liberal use of your CD player's fast-forward and skip-track buttons will get you through. And you'll be the better for the journey...more»

[the unaccompanied voice]
Various Artists / The Unaccompanied Voice: An A Capella Compilation / Secretly Canadian

Hearing a capella songs on record, especially a solo recording, can be like eavesdropping on someone consoling themselves. For The Unaccompanied Voice, Secretly Canadian solicited recordings from what initially seems like a predictable group of singers...though when you think about it, perhaps it isn't. Sure, someone like Richard Buckner would seem a likely candidate to perform a capella -- it's not that far from standard voice-and-guitar performance -- yet I can't recall ever hearing him do it before...more»

Utah Carol / Wonderwheel / Utah Carol

The opening moments of Wonderwheel suggest that Utah Carol is another starkly melodic alt-country duo...but such is not the case. If Wonderwheel is an alt-country album, it's an alt-country album produced by Van Dyke Parks...which is a pretty interesting concept in itself. There's a strong, strong pop aesthetic at work here amid all the twang. It's evident in the lush sophistication of the melodies -- "Charmed Life", for instance, adds multiple layers of vocal and instrumental harmony...more»

[at a glance]
And this week in At A Glance...
SR-71, Pele, Fear, The Mayflies USA, Vinyl Bill, Chikmountain, Bigboote, Bill Horist, David Thomas and Foreigners, Phunky Data, Koufax, Greg Foster and Joel Futterman, EC8OR, By Coastal Cafe, Drums & Tuba, Favez, Ramona the Pest, Beth Hirsch, Call and Response, Beulah

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