MOT O R TORO Y MOI Causers of This (Carpark Records)
Devotees of ’80s-and ’90s-era industrial music and acid house (think Nitzer Ebb, Lords of Acid, and 808 State) needn’t cling to the past to get a taste of their beloved dark-rave subculture. Motor — the brainchild of DJ/producers Bryan Black and Mr. No — proves every bit as good as the classics for stirring the suppressed sweaty dance-floor monkey in all of us. But sorry, candy ravers: your cutesy Haribo lunch boxes and neon pacifiers are not welcome to the newest Motor party, because these boys bring it sick, evil, and relentless. Eschewing the disco-inflected formulae that helped bring techno into the dance-pop mainstream, Motor serves up what it calls, accurately, “dance metal” — an amalgam of GameBoy glitch; digitally finessed fuzz-metal guitar; generous pitch-bending synths; siren wails; pounding beats; and fleeting voice-track samples. The rhythmic flow of Hyper Machine borders on aural torture. From the opening title track to “Thwack,” the album’s closer, there’s little mercy in the beat pressure Black and Mr. No apply to your eardrums. Thankfully, though, most of the songs carry enough originality to keep things interesting. “Feedback Loop” and “Le Bitch” sound similar enough to be retreads of each other, but the rest of the album is as hip-grindingly timeless as the best acid-house albums of yesteryear. — Rob DeWalt
Peerless Chopin interpreter Martha Argerich achieved near-mythic stature while wrestling psychological and physical challenges that mirror the demons and infirmities Chopin himself faced.
JAGUAR LOVE Hologram Jams (Fat Possum Records) For any newcomer to Jaguar Love, the make-or-break matter will be Johnny Whitney’s voice, a demonic caterwaul that has been likened to a “child being tortured,” “Robert Plant on steroids,” or “Perry Farrell after a sex change.” Dance punk isn’t an adequate term to describe the band’s new record, Hologram Jams, which sounds like the Go-Gos covered by Def Leppard, or for younger readers, Sleater-Kinney if the group had been produced by Diplo. Drummer Jay Clark left the band last year to be replaced by studio loops and a drum machine. The change has produced joyous, spastic singles like “I Started a Fire” and “Up All Night,” which deftly rides a 4/4 house beat over thrash-metal chords and armchair-apocalypse lyrics. Other times, the mix is disastrous, like when the band fumbles through power chords and squelched synths to produce a barely listenable cover of Janis Joplin’s “Take a Piece of My Heart” as a hidden, final track. Many of Jaguar Love’s fans, who followed Whitney from his screamo stint helming the Seattle post-hardcore band Blood Brothers, may be shocked that the Jags are ditching the hardcore pit for something resembling a dance floor. When the band plays March 13 at Launchpad in Albuquerque, I can only imagine the legion of 19-yearold emo kids, trying to conceal their smiles as they jerk their bodies in ecstatic, if ill-timed movements. CHOPIN Argerich Plays Chopin (Deutsche
Grammophon) The high point of the festivities surrounding the 200th birthday of Frédéric Chopin, celebrated on March 1, must be this new, unanticipated all-Chopin CD from his peerless interpreter, Martha Argerich. Eccentric and reclusive, the Argentine pianist achieved near-mythic stature while wrestling psychological and physical challenges that mirror the demons and infirmities Chopin himself faced. She has championed a limited repertoire, but Chopin has been one of her insuperable strengths; in fact, it was her victory at the 1965 Chopin International Piano Competition that catapulted her to stardom. Assembled from recital tapes forgotten in archives in Cologne and Berlin — one track from 1959 (when she was 18), the rest from three concerts in 1967 — this CD fills in discographic gaps by including six Chopin works Argerich never recorded elsewhere, among them a vibrant reading of the G-minor Ballade and a dashing account of the C-sharp Minor Etude. Everything we expect of Argerich is here: tonal spaciousness, timbral finesse, digital virtuosity, pedaling of exceptional expressivity, and, above all, uncanny rhythmic acumen that allows for considerable rubato without sacrificing the underlying momentum. All of this reaches an apex in her brilliant interpretation of the Sonata in B Minor. The recorded sound ranges from good to superb, making this an essential document of splendid Chopin playing. If you raise your hand to shield your eyes from the sun, you can just make out South Carolina’s Chaz Bundick (aka Toro Y Moi) surfing in on the waves created by Animal Collective’s considerable seismic impact on the indie-music world. Bundick clearly takes inspiration from that group’s psychedelic melodies, but he imbues them with a more tropical feel. Beginning with the twinkling guitar lick that surfaces in the opener, “Blessa,” you can practically see the heat emanating from Bundick’s gently warped washes of keyboards, samples, and vocals, as 1980s soft-rock rhythms rise and fall in the sound mix. But as impressionistic as the music may seem, you often don’t have to wade in too deep to find punch-drunk jabs at more straightforward songwriting conventions.
Causers of This is a synth-pop album at its core, and concrete evidence of this can be found in the elastic bass, jaunty piano, and sneaky hooks in songs like “Low Shoulders” and the vaguely Stevie Wonder-esque “Imprint After.” The album plays more like a DJ set than a collection of 11 singles, and it’s occasionally difficult to find anything firm to hold on to. “Fax Shadow,” for example, is a formless ballad that wobbles in and out of focus, conveying the bittersweet sensation of trying to tune in your radio on the beach. — Robert Benziker