cd re­views

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos -

Of MON­TREAL (Polyvinyl

False Priest records) Since ex­plor­ing his id on 2007’s Hiss­ing Fauna, Are You the De­stroyer? and frag­ment­ing his per­son­al­ity into odd­ball al­ter egos on 2008’s Skele­tal Lamp­ing, Of Mon­treal’s Kevin Barnes has be­come Amer­ica’s lead­ing bipo­lar pan­sex­ual pur­veyor of Prince­like pop songs about kinky sex and clin­i­cal de­pres­sion. And God bless him for it. False Priest finds him team­ing with pro­ducer Jon Brion, who seems to bring Barnes a mod­icum of fo­cus along with his silky strings and lively key­board work — in­di­vid­ual songs leap out of your head­phones much more than on Lamp­ing. I tend to pre­fer the songs that fall on the sad side of the spec­trum, as Barnes has a way of bring­ing out the silli­ness in wal­low­ing in self-pity. You can prac­ti­cally see the over­dra­matic, an­guished hand on his fore­head as he moans lines like, “I don’t love you any­more — go away, go away, go away,” on “Famine Af­fair.” Mostly, how­ever, the al­bum ex­plores his sen­sual and soul­ful side, as he name-drops Funkadelic songs and sings lines like “You look like a play­ground to me, player” on a duet with Solange Knowles. The mix some­times sounds a bit too com­pressed, with no in­stru­ments stand­ing in the wash of fre­netic funk, but Barnes’ play­ful and in­spir­ing vo­cals are the main in­stru­ment. — Robert B. Ker

CAMU TAO King of Hearts (De­fin­i­tive Jux/fat Pos­sum records)

With this post­hu­mous de­but solo re­lease, rapper Camu Tao (aka Tero Smith) steps away from the in­die-hip-hop oeu­vre and delivers a con­found­ing but telling al­bum far re­moved from the beat-and sam­ple­cen­tric ma­te­rial that Def Jux la­bel head El-P and his camp tra­di­tion­ally serve. A col­lec­tion of rough mixes and unpolished demos pri­mar­ily pro­duced by El-P and Camu Tao be­fore Tao’s death from lung can­cer in 2008,

King of Hearts re­veals a mu­si­cian who had drawn up solid plans to knock on post-punk’s hip-hop-less door and leave a burn­ing bag of ge­nius on its front stoop. While there are a few un­for­tu­nate stylis­tic hints of that most pseudo of bands, The Black Eyed Peas, on tracks like “Get at You” and “Bird Flu,” Tao’s first and only solo ef­fort proves to be the kind of al­bum that, while rough-hewn and of be­low-av­er­age sound qual­ity, could help bridge the gap (or at least shorten it) be­tween in­die rock and un­der­ground hip-hop. Rock and rap have com­min­gled be­fore — but with lit­tle and fleet­ing suc­cess. Tao man­ages to blend them both ex­pertly here with lit­tle more than Pro Tools and raw tal­ent. “When You’re Go­ing Down” and “In­ter­ven­tion” bleed hints of UK band War­saw circa 1978, while “Play O Run” sounds like a song Elvis Costello might have com­posed for Armed Forces. But don’t worry, rap fans, Tao still man­ages a few fine hip-hop-cen­tric num­bers (“Plot a Lit­tle,” “Ma­jor Team”) that show­case his rhyming gifts and lyrical fi­nesse. — Rob DeWalt

Of Mon­treal’s Kevin Barnes has be­come Amer­ica’s lead­ing bipo­lar pan­sex­ual pur­veyor of Prince-like pop songs about kinky sex and clin­i­cal de­pres­sion.

Wal­ter Gib­bOns Jun­gle Mu­sic: Mixed With Love: Es­sen­tial & Un­re­leased Remixes 1976-1986 (strut

records) A shy born-again gay Chris­tian who railed against promis­cu­ity, Wal­ter Gib­bons was one of the most un­likely DJs to emerge from New York’s dance scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s. From his res­i­dency at Man­hat­tan’s Galaxy 21, Gib­bons threaded disco to the emer­gent hip-hop sound com­ing from the Bronx in a style that has only re­cently be­came au courant among rap pro­duc­ers. Dur­ing his hey­day, Gib­bons’ sonic ex­per­i­ments went largely un­ap­pre­ci­ated. Beat­box­ing hip-hop­pers Stet­sasonic thought his as­tral disco pro­duc­tion of “4 Ever My Beat” a travesty, while the pa­trons of Gib­bons’ club (which dou­bled as a cabaret and porn theater) were out­raged when he be­gan spin­ning gospel in his club mixes. The first disc of this reis­sue show­cases Gib­bons’ tal­ent for break­ing apart cho­ruses and re­string­ing them over the looped disco break­beats, as he does to bril­liant ef­fect in an 11-minute remix of soul singer Bet­tye LaVette’s smash “Doin’ the Best That I Can.” It’s in the sec­ond disc, how­ever, that Gib­bons’ dance-floor ec­cen­tric­i­ties come to the fore, as in his edit of Strafe’s “Set It Off,” which pairs punk gui­tar riffs with the elec­tro­funk beats of Latin freestyle. Rare pho­tos and a fine bi­og­ra­phy of Gib­bons make this two-disc set a well-sound­tracked time cap­sule.

— Casey Sanchez

tHe baD PlUs Never Stop (e1 en­ter­tain­ment)

Here is the first al­bum by The Bad Plus con­sist­ing en­tirely of orig­i­nal works — there are no cov­ers of ABBA, Richard Rodgers, Nir­vana, or Stravin­sky. The first song, “The Ra­dio Tower Has a Beat­ing Heart,” opens full on, with a thick bar­rage of in­stru­men­tal sound — chaotic on the sur­face, per­haps, but, but ... it makes me want to hug my­self, pro­tec­tively, just lis­ten­ing to it and think­ing of how I might de­scribe it. It is dense, pro­foundly demon­stra­tive, of course, and not de­void of melod­i­cism. About four min­utes in, the mu­si­cians stop, rest for a moment, and pro­ceed in a more clas­si­cal trio mode, giv­ing drum­mer David King a chance to im­pro­vise over a re­peat­ing pat­tern by pi­anist Ethan Iver­son and bassist Reid An­der­son. The song “Never Stop” has a fun, chug­ging rhythm un­der­neath Iver­son’s wan­der­ings and An­der­son’s loud, rock-heavy drum­ming. It’s The Bad Plus for sure. It makes me want to dance spas­ti­cally. “You Are” shows some fas­ci­nat­ing trio chem­istry. And they’re swingin’! The groove is more stately and gen­tle on “Peo­ple Like You,” al­though this band can’t quite avoid wax­ing cli­mac­tic. “Beryl Loves to Dance” is as de­light­fully wacky as the ti­tle. The closer, “Su­per Amer­ica,” is clap-happy but not at all sappy. Never Stop is just very, very in­ter­est­ing. And loud. — Paul Wei­de­man

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