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Githead, "Art Pop"

Githead's debut Headgit EP and subsequent full length Profile brought angular post-punk at a time when, quite frankly, everyone else was doing it. That Wire frontman Colin Newman served as its voice and postmodern lyricist did surprisingly little to differentiate it from the fresher crop of youngbloods. Both releases had their respective moments of memorable majesty, such as the subdued tech-house of "To Have And To Hold" and the slogan expropriating screed "Option Paralysis," though neither produced the anticipated excellence of a collaboration between Newman, his wife Malka Spigel, and Robin "Scanner" Rimbaud.  With Art Pop, their latest for the Swim ~ imprint, the trio (now a quartet) finally delivers, taking their sound to a level that demands attention from indie rock dweebs and PBR-guzzling hipsters alike.

 

Swim ~

From the opening guitar chug of "On Your Own," an immediate wind of change breezes through, and continues to do so as a jangly pop groove with Newman's unique pipes keeps things in perspective.  As expected, Newman's lyrics are still as bizarre as ever, with choruses about overloaded email inboxes seeming just a bit too heavy handed, though his rediscovered sense of delivery excuses him of such habitual excesses.  As he did so successfully with Wire in the '80s, Newman consummates the sordid wedding of accessible music and theory-laden message, from the complex spittle-flecked diatribe of "Drive By" to "These Days," a deceptively simple lament of numbness.  

Spiegel and drummer Max Franken's rhythm section not only keeps everything in order, but also creates elaborate, brilliant grooves that are impossible to ignore. On "Space Life," Spiegel's bass line bursts through the guitar fuzz with a insatiable vitality, while Franken methodically accents every snare.  Even the tracks where Newman takes a backseat still shine, though for entirely different reasons.  "Lifeloops" detours from the rock n roll for a plucked guitar ballad awash in dreamy synth, with a coolly monotonous Spigel taking on the vocal duties throughout, as does the vocoded "Jet Ear Game," with lyrics cut-up and reassembled from media reviews of Profile.

The material here is anything but homogenous, ranging from the gravely pastoral and somber "Live In Your Head" to the slow and sleazy psych-funk of "Drop," though it all comes together in nearly perfect unison.  Of course Wire fanatics and those who have continuously followed Newman’s solo career will enjoy Art Pop, but additionally it has the potential to reach entirely new audiences as previously mentioned.  Finally, Githead has made good on its promise with this essential release.

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Review of the Day

NOBUKAZU TAKEMURA, "SIGN"
This indeed is what it should all be about. Side one has three tracks, two different versions of the title track, "Sign" and another track, "COGWHEEL." As expected from the last release, "Sign" harbors Takemura's love for beauty and the voice, coupled with his ability to hack and chop away at sounds and beats electronically. The real excitement happens when you flip the record over to side two. Now, I set my timer to this one as it looked like it was pressed rather tight (the vinyl that is). Experts have claimed that only about 25 minutes would fit comfortably on one side of a 12" record, played at 33 1/3 RPM, right? The improvisational "jam" that takes place on side two features Chicago friends Bundy K. Brown, John McEntire and Doug McCombs (all from Tortoise and related camps) clocks in just over 35 minutes. Right, that's not a typo! The piece is fantastic and might as well be another one of those songs you always wished would appear on a Tortoise record. It starts off with a wonderful showcase of how all four musicians have a keen sense of improvisation and incredible talent to create cohesive noise with each other. It starts off like a jamming rockish jazzish tune, but then something goes awry, glitchiness ensues in a dreamy audio bath of laptop fuckery with live instruments... I'm getting flashbacks and almost begin dreaming that this could honestly be "Djed 2!" Yes, I'm a fan and I love Tortoise music, but this track simply titled only as "Souvenir in Chicago" is a stunning performance, and it's something you knew these guys could do and hoped they would do, but never actually heard. This record only comes on vinyl and is limited to 2000 copies. Tortoise fans, Takemura fans shouldn't pass this one by, you'll regret it for years to come! And vinyl sure makes for a great stocking stuffer!

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