Drawing Restraint 9
(One Little Indian)
Björk's latest release is a sometimes childlike, more often abstrusely avant-garde, soundtrack to the new Matthew Barney film. It features Barney and Björk turning into whales (among other objects) and has already drawn its fair share of detractors among Björk fans, one of whom describes a "10-minute marathon of what sounds like an old man trying to pass a painful bowel movement" on www.amazon.co.uk.
That's a bit too harsh. This is a soundtrack. One expects soundtracks to be abstract, nonverbal—particularly a soundtrack created by a woman who takes pride in constantly challenging the perception of her work. Some of Drawing Restraint's music is quite beautiful, haunting: the children's choir at the end of "Gratitude"; the album's elegiac centerpiece "Storm" with Björk's impassioned vocals; the minimal and playful instrumental "Ambergis March," with its crotales and glockenspiel.
And although the piercing sound of the cho solo (kind of a cross between an organ and a harmonica) on "Antarctic Return," and the aforementioned grunting man ("Holographic Entrypoint") may not be to everyone's taste, there's certainly enough here to beguile and excite. EVERETT TRUE
THE TIME FLYS
Aside from the asinine Top-40 phonies, what's left of punk-rock populi is plumped with 1979 wannabes whose main goal in life is to record one 7-inch single that'll be described as "Killed By Death style" on eBay 10 years from now. This was a revolution?
The Time Flys fly that fading flag, but step back further to the 1972–75 era, before punk was so codified, when a suburban jerk could sing of third-base conquests and end his day with a Dictators LP and a brown bag of model glue. It seems digging for first-wave arcana has gotten to the point where the Gizmos (the first line-up, of course) would be the best reference point here, and if that means anything to you, run out and buy this CD now, 'cause it's a good one.
Considering this crew is from Oakland, California, and one member is in the increasingly jammy Cuts, Time Flys is all bored, beer-swilling, Midwest blurt-out goofitude. Songs about dumb friends, dope gulping, and occasional lapses into caveman analogies hearken to that pre-Pistols blip when "punks" would rather spend their rent money on comic books than haircuts. Stuttering on-the-fly guitar solos, snotty vocals, and that genetic ability to drop a tune at two minutes are the trashy traits. The woozy, obscure doo-wop cover, "Teenage Tears," is the kind of inspired touch lost on most retro raw punks these days. Plus Fly is spitballed with enough lyrical weirdness and explosive noisy bridges that the time travel isn't all backward. ERIC DAVIDSON
Inna City Pressure
Dr. Israel's 1998 Inna City Pressure, (recently re-released by Roir) attempts to bring together all of the developed elements of reggae—roots, dancehall, dub, and jungle. It also reaffirms reggae's alliance with hiphop and punk. Despite the disparate elements, the CD surprisingly doesn't fall apart or spin out of control. Dr. Israel—who programmed the music, wrote the lyrics, and provided the toasting —keeps the wild profusion of musical styles under control. He does this by sticking strictly to the basic politics of a Rasta: The Brooklyn-based Dr. Israel is anti-violence, anti-racism, pro-economic improvement for blacks, pro-overthrowing of the rich, and always dreaming of a united Africa. The lyrical content might be predictable, but the music is complex, dense, and continually interesting. One of Pressure's standout tracks is a cover of Willie Williams' "Armagideon Time," one of the greatest reggae songs ever made, and one that was also covered by the Clash. Israel's version of the track manages to convincingly electrify the old reggae song with futuristic jungle beats, proving he really is the man with the remedy. CHARLES MUDEDE
The Stooges / Fun House
These two reissued albums represent the Stooges at the peak of their supersonic powers. Which essentially means, if you don't like The Stooges (1969) and Fun House (1970), you don't like rock music. Further, you are probably a lousy lay and a Republican.
Led by possibly the most phallic and wiry frontman in the history of frontmen, Iggy Pop (AKA James Osterberg), these Ann Arbor miscreants created the ultimate fight-and-fuck soundtrack. Ig, Ron Asheton (guitar), Scott Asheton (drums), and Dave Alexander (bass) inspired pure pelvic-grinding raunchiness and politician-punching nihilism. Oh, and punk rock, too. Seminal? Your scene is soaking in it, junior.
You should already know these songs as well as you do your own genitals, seeing as they're basically as crucial as that junk in your crotch (or should be). Produced by the Velvet Underground's John Cale, The Stooges is a fuzzed-to-hell, wah-wah'd-to-heaven seminar in primitive rock-n-roll ballistics—except for "We Will Fall," a somber, satanic faux-Krishna chant of ominous portent. Though the follow-up Fun House is 35 years old, it's still darker, more brutal, sexier, wilder, and scarier than 99 percent of all music that's emerged since its birth.
To the original classic LPs, Rhino has added bonus CDs totaling 24 rarities and unreleased tracks and copious, valuable liner notes. These addenda bear no revelations, but they offer Stooges fanatics interesting peeks into the band's creative process and make you realize that the original album-track selections were right on.
But enough chatter. You need these albums like you need to get laid tonight. "Uhhnnggg!" DAVE SEGAL