SQUAREPUSHER
Squarepusher Presents Budakhan Mindphone

(Warp/Nothing)
*
**

Squarepusher, a.k.a. Tom Jenkinson, may be the most prolific musician currently at work. Budakhan Mindphone may be packaged to simulate a throwaway effort, but you can rest assured Squarepusher will have another couple of full-length collections out by the time the average bear has come to fully appreciate the goings-on here. He's a singular mind, composing, producing, and performing his entire output. His medium may be electronica, but his musicianship isn't dependent on gadgetry. This 30-minute mini-album is a great introduction to his chops, particularly for anyone who misses the adventurous mind-humping promise of the fusion movement before it went sour in the late '80s. Herbie Hancock must surely be eating a flock of crow by now. RIZ ROLLINS


COUNTRY TEASERS

Destroy All Human Life

(Fat Possum)
*
**

This is the rotten underside of trash American country blues rock: where fat-sounding men wail uncontrollably, and slide guitarists who've clearly listened to way too much Mekons and Tom Waits throw in tinny, catchy solos between spat-out lines illuminating in their misanthropy. There's no reason why the deliberately off-key Country Teasers should be so damn lovable--but, like their fellow wayward, disturbed spirits the Bad Livers and the Pogues, their slowed-down, childlike, self-immolating music certainly is. There's always something poignant in something this rotten. EVERETT TRUE


PRODIGY
The Dirtchamber Sessions Volume One

(XL)
*
***

Rare good fun. Prodigy's Liam Howlett loves old-school hiphop (Grandmaster Flash, Public Enemy, Ultramagnetic MCs) and new-school rock (Sex Pistols, Jane's Addiction, the KLF), as this collection proves. The Dirtchamber Sessions is basically a lovingly assembled megamix, drawn from all the records that have informed Howlett's development as an artist. Particularly enjoyable is the inspired segue from the Sex Pistols' still gut-churning "New York" into Fatboy Slim's ridiculous "Punk to Funk"; also Primal Scream's incredible "Kowalski" into the Beasties' cool 'n' funky "Time to Get Ill." Got a party that needs kick-starting? Buy this NOW (it'll become tired after a week or two). ET


DNA
Matthew Shipp Duo with William Parker
(Thirsty Ear)
*
***

The liner notes indicate that these pieces were recorded last January; and whereas six of the seven tracks refer to the thematic title of the recording, the first track--the traditional "When Johnny Comes Marching Home"--indicates a chilling prescience, given the recent military activity in Yugoslavia. On the whole, the pieces are fiercely meditative and evocative of the organic nature of the creative process, yet wholly precise, as pianist Shipp intends. The duets are largely improvised, but they are not conversational. Shipp and bassist Parker have established a rapport that renders unified and densely harmonious performances. The two longest tracks, "Genetic Alphabet" and "Mr. Chromosome," display their combined sensibilities in peak form. Philosophical, motional, and rhythmic, they demand repeated listenings to discover the treasures in their sentiments--but the rewards are substantial, almost overwhelming. RR



ELTON JOHN AND TIM RICE

Aida

(Rocket/Island)
*


Oh, spare us. The album begins with Sting reverting to cod-reggae on the inexcusable "Another Pyramid," continues through Tina Turner reliving her finest moment (as the Acid Queen in Tommy, duh) on "Easy as Life" (at least I think that's what she's attempting), then perks up momentarily with the arrival of the Spice Girls (a suitably buoyant "My Strongest Suit"). After that, it hits new lows with Boyz II Men, the appalling Shania Twain, and Man's Single Greatest Living Reason For Compulsory Euthanasia, Lenny Kravitz, before throwing in James Taylor (James Taylor, for fuck's sake!) and whimpering out with Dru Hill's horrible "Enchantment Passing Through." Buy this album for someone you truly hate. ET



FLOTILLA
Flotilla
(World Domination)
*


Slowcore. Now there's a genre that should've been strangled at birth. ET


OLIVIA TREMOR CONTROL
Black Foliage: Animation Music

(Flydaddy)
*
**

...wherein surrealist tape collages attempt to drown out a collection of candy-assed imitation '60s music and succeed, mostly. The Olivia Tremor Control has isolated the weirder elements of studio horseplay and strung them all together into a psychedelic variety pack. It's all been dressed up very colorfully; the only problems are the songs themselves. Head Olivia Will Cullen Hart has the wussily earnest voice of an Elliott Smith, but instead of singing about alcoholism and misery, he has lines like "What if we wore our stripes in the sky?" By all means, trip us out, but in the future, omit the hippie shit lyrics. Please. PHILIP GUICHARD


VARIOUS ARTISTS
Yoyo A Go Go: Another Live Compilation
(Yoyo)
*
***

What can I say? A collection of 22 tracks recorded live at the lo-fi Yoyo A Go Go festival, at the Capitol Theater in Olympia, WA, July 1997. There's Sleater-Kinney sounding suitably turbulent and broody, there's Built to Spill doing their best Grateful Dead impersonation, there's the God-like Mecca Normal ripping the roof off the place with an impassioned "Step Into My Sphere," there's Behead The Prophet's queer punk dance song, there's Dub Narcotic being Dub Narcotic, Modest Mouse sounding very formative, Lois, the Mountain Goats... I prefer the solitary experiences of Jason Traeger's ripping cover of "Good Thing" and Nikki McClure's audience-led "Godzilla"--maybe even Mirah's tremulous "Tumwater Falls." It's all good stuff, though, lovingly compiled and documented. ET


PETE KREBS AND THE GOSSAMER WINGS
Sweet Ona Rosie

(Cavity Search)
*
**

Yeah, it's finally out. So go buy it.

(Oh, sorry. You want a description? You mean you're not already familiar with Pete's travel-worn, nicotine-stained voice, the way his songs resonate with the loneliness of long-distance love affairs and countless nights on the road? The way he can capture a mood, make you feel instantly nostalgic for the time you're living in? The way his band gently fleshes out his deeply personal tales of Americana and lust gone astray? You mean you've never listened to the blues? I thought it was a given around these parts that Pete Krebs--formerly of lame Sub Pop alt-rockers Hazel and crazed traditionalists Golden Delicious--is Portland's Greatest Living Poet. It's not? Hmm. Well, Sweet Ona Rosie isn't as tangibly moving as Pete's band is onstage... but records should never equal the emotional live experience. Never.) ET

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