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October 23rd, 2002 Zach Dundas (editor) | Sonic Reducer
 

Treasure + Trash

New albums by Amon Tobin, Beck, Jets to Brazil, Floetry and Radio Zumbido

     
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Amon Tobin
Out From Out Where (Ninja Tune)

Ninja Tune posterchild Amon Tobin delivers yet another collection of complex, confounding and endlessly creative cuts. This time, he inches closer to the jungle barrage of his live sets; the overall vibe is a bit more intense and busier than 2000's Supermodified. Not that there aren't any calm, reflective moments--as usual, they come cloaked in eerie, atmospheric samples probably lifted from some long-forgotten B-movie soundtrack. However, when Tobin gets going with squishy, swirly stompers, the sheer wall of sonic activity is dizzying. All in all, yet further evidence of this guy's spectacular sound-shaping and beat-wrangling skills. (Ben Munat)

Amon Tobin plays Saturday, Oct. 26, at B Complex, 320 SE 2nd Ave., 235-4424. DJ Food, Bonobo, Prefuse 73 and P-Love also appear. 9 pm. $15+ advance. All ages.

Beck
Sea Change (Geffen)

An unabashed swan dive into a bottomless ocean of overproduced electro-acoustic despair. Listening to the album is a bit like meeting an old friend with whom you harbor innocent plans to drink some beer and play darts, only to find the agenda redirected into protracted recollections and analysis of his or her latest painful breakup. Beset by girl problems, Beck artfully distills this emotional state into 52 minutes of competent guitar work that wanders, without direction, through waist-high floodwaters of glockenspiel, synthesizer and loneliness. Wear sweatpants and eat ice cream. (Mike Campbell)

Floetry
Floetic (Dreamworks)

The English duo of Marsha Ambrosius and Natalie Stewart reportedly distinguished themselves as two-song wonders during a very succinct recent Portland appearance. Nonetheless, their recorded combination of spoken-word poetics, hip-hop and smooth R&B is worth a listen. Floetry sometimes dips into the cheese with its lyrics and delivery ("I know there's a method to your manliness, but I'm afraid," coupled with heavy bedroom breathing) and has an often irritating habit of starting almost every song with rather banal, cliché commentary. But for every moment that calls to mind Waiting to Exhale, there's just enough heady funk and sultry harmonics. (Cris Day)

Jets to Brazil
Perfecting Loneliness (Jade Tree)

The quartet led by one-time Jawbreaker auteur Blake Schwarzenbach blows the budget on bells and whistles here. Exhibit A: The enhanced CD contains a self-obsessive wordless "making-of" documentary, revealing nothing so much as an unhealthy fascination with the studio. Exhibit B: The classic pop sound of 2000's Four-Cornered Night gives way to distended prog-rock production--you haven't suffered through this kind of bloat since you cheered your mom on at Jiggles. Jets' previous forays into keyboard pomp colored the background of Schwarzenbach's perennially lovelorn waxing; now the band seems determined to prove it knows what all the knobs do, and the melodies vanish into a ponderous mire. Plus, the songs are too damn long, a whiny finale clocking in at more than nine minutes. The urge to SLAP SLAP PUNCH AND CRUSH hits around the sixth minute or so. New editors, new tactics and some restraint are needed here. (ZD)

Radio Zumbido
Los Ultimos Dias del AM (Palm Pictures)

For the past one hundred years or so, America has been the greatest musical laboratory on the planet. Ragtime, blues, jazz, country, rock, hip-hop, techno--Americans invented music about as fast as the rest of the world could lap it up and churn out ninth-rate imitations as convincing as knock-off Bulgarian Adidas with five stripes. (The British play Our Music better than we do, sometimes, but for every Fela or Serge Gainsbourg, you can find numerous '80s French rock bands that leave your tongue coated with bile.) But is the party over? American pop slumbers in self-congratulating subcultures, services the Corporate Whore or simply dumbs out. Meanwhile, a huge fraction of the most interesting musicians to surface recently--from Sigur Rós to Gogol Bordello--have roots elsewhere. Guatemala's intriguing Radio Zumbido is yet another, craftily combining chill acid jazz with Latin rhythmic thunder. The title roughly translates as "the last days of the AM," and the album's 11 instrumentals are fittingly post-apocalyptic. Body-snatched vocal samples, shreds of jazz and tribal music and electronic burbles swirl around tireless beats and wispy ambient noise. Along with other transnational pop buccaneers set to swamp our shores, Radio Zumbido stages a midnight raid on the U.S.-stocked pop storehouse, using the plunder to its own subversive ends. (ZD)

 
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