CD Shorts

Alvin Curran
Solo Works: The ’70s
(New World)

Best known as a composer in the new classical mode, Alvin Curran did solo recordings in the 1970s that are nothing short of a revelation: startlingly accessible, surprising, fresh and fun. It’s an enthralling sonic crazy quilt sewn together from elements of electronica, jazz, found sounds, folk music and minimalism. This three-disc set collects four long-overlooked albums that offer loose sketches and thoughtful compositions. Sections from the charming Songs and Views From the Magnetic Garden recall Terry Riley’s blissful “A Rainbow In Curved Air,” while the buzzing mass of choral voices on Canti Illuminati evokes The Boredoms. But mostly this idiosyncratic music—which effortlessly combines spoken word samples, ragtime piano, phased loops, wordless yodels, thumb pianos, and insect choirs—is sui generis. It’s easily one of the most exciting reissues of the year.  —Jeff Jackson

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Timber Timbre
Creep On Creepin’ On
(Arts & Crafts)

At least one of these tracks needs to wind up in a Quentin Tarantino film, as it’s easy to picture any number of them playing in the background as some poor (or deserving) victim is slowly carved to pieces with a rusty box-cutter. In addition to its general vibe of dark-country-twang-meets-Leonard-Cohenesque-lyrics, Timber Timbre also oozes a ’50s doo-wop-via-Frank Zappa vibe, some Roger Waters angst and some “Drive-in Saturday”-era Bowie. Instrumentation is brilliantly spare, and the application of slap-back delay on vocals and saxophones (baritones, a la Morphine) keeps it spooky and reminiscent of that primal scream vibe on Lennon’s Cold Turkey. The abundance of creepy sound effects makes the album even more movie soundtrack-ready, though it’s also rumored that these guys do a bang-up job pulling this stuff off live.  —Tom Sturm

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The Ex
Catch My Shoe
(Ex)

Catch My Shoe is The Ex’s first album without vocalist/lyricist GW Sok. For most bands, losing their singer would be a death knell, but the Dutch avant-punk legends have fruitfully rearranged their lineup for over 20 years. The band’s most recognizable sonic elements—the interplay of buzzsaw guitars and percolating polyrythms—remain in place. New vocalist Arnold de Boer does an excellent job matching the declamatory fervor of his predecessor, supplying lyrics both political and poetic. Highlights include the storming “Cold Weather Is Back” and “Maybe I Was the Pilot,” whose churning riffs are punched up with horns. The band’s interest in African music shines on a liltingly melodic-but-abrasive version of Ethiopian folk song “Eoleyo.” Although Catch My Shoe isn’t quite as remarkable as their last few, this is vital music that couldn’t be mistaken for any other band’s. —Jeff Jackson

Author: Advocate Staff

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