Known Johnson

July 10, 2006

Overlooked Alternatives: new releases for July 11, 2006

Filed under: Music,Overlooked Alternatives — Tom @ 8:51 pm

I think it’s pretty safe to assume that one release definitely going unoverlooked this week is Pink Floyd’s long-awaited DVD release of Pulse, the document of their now “official” final tour in 1994. I was initially really excited about this – with all that gorgeous new Storm Thorgeson artwork and all those tantalizing extras – until I realized that I had almost no desire to actually watch it. I got the videotape back in the 90s when it came out and watched it maybe a couple of times, if that, and found it less than intriguing. No concert video is ever going to reproduce the actual feeling of “being there,” but the most entertaining ones find ways to break down the wall created by the visual medium. Pulse, unfortunately, did not even come close to doing this. Even less, it was absolutely nothing like actually being at the show that I’d seen – which I’d watch from far up in the bleachers of ASU’s Sun Devil Stadium, so it’s not like I had particularly noteworthy seats. I just felt letdown after the sweeping cinematic splendor of Delicate Sound of Thunder, which took great liberties with the flow of the real Floyd show, from what I read, but did so in an effort to present a concept of what the Pink Floyd live experience was to an audience member. Those are likely my objections alone, and Pulse is likely to sell an incredible number of copies this week. There just won’t be one sold to me.

Thom Yorke – The Eraser: There’s something kind of humorous about Thom Yorke’s insistence that this album is not a “solo” album (“I don’t want to hear that word, ‘solo.'”) It has his name on the spine, and he’s not playing with the band . . . but anyway, you can probably guess the direction this album goes – more electronic, more sparse, a little darker and more weird than Radiohead typically gets. If Kid A‘s quiet, dark moments twist your knobs, get your knobs ready, because this is more in that direction again.

Muse – Black Holes And Revelations: And if you’re hungry for what Radiohead used to do, namely big songs with strong choruses, you probably should check out Muse if you haven’t already. Really, Muse’s Matthew Bellamy resembles Queen’s Freddie Mercury filtered through Thom Yorke’s warble, and with Black Holes And Revelations Muse seem to actually be stretching beyond the Radiohead comparisons that plagued their first three albums. This one finds the band playing with more techno elements that they’d only hinted at on earlier albums (and in completely different ways than Radiohead have) and, from the reviews I’ve been seeing, the band pulls off the transition quite well. Absolution seems to have been the album that got them attention in the US, but this might just be the one that really takes them forward. Keep an eye out for the limited edition package which includes a DVD of their performance at the Glastonbury festival – Amazon’s got a steal of a deal right now ($13.99.) And I get a little Storm Thorgeson fix here – his trademark surreal imagery is found on the album’s packaging.

Sufjan Stevens – The Avalanche: Outtakes & Extras from the Illinois Album: Wow, 21 more songs about Illinois (which was the focus of last year’s state-themed album.) And that’s not even his home state! With a project of 48 more states, he better get crackin’ – no time to waste on more outtakes albums, but I’ll take it just the same if he has a few more songs on this one like the devastatingly creepy and sad “John Wayne Gacy,” found on Illinois. Buried in with the strings, horns, and banjo, Stevens crafts some powerful lyrics that beg to be heard.

Kaada – Music for Moviebikers: “A score without a film” is probably the best description I can possibly come up with to describe Kaada’s music. Two years ago he released an album with Mike Patton that is probably the best known thing he’s done, but outside of that he’s concocted very odd, sometimes trip-hop inspired concoctions that utilize elements of 50s and 60s music – and it has to be heard because it’s far more successful than it sounds in writing. Music for Moviebikers, however, is not more of this – the music is hypnotic, gentle, and quiet, almost new-age but not pandering. A score in search of a film, as I stated before – Kaada leaves it up to you, the listener, to fill in the frames yourself (I suggest something arty and very eastern European styled, but that’s just me.) Fans of Mike Patton’s quiet moments in Fantomas may find much to enjoy here – and it should come as no surprise that Patton’s label Ipecac is now the home for Kaada’s releases.

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