Rhythm & Views
JUNE 15, 1998:
VARIOUS ARTISTSUnited Kingdom of Punk 2
WONDERING WHAT THE hell happened to rock and roll rebellion? Is it Green Day doing an acoustic ballad complete with strings (earning them a slot opening for Poison in hell)? Is it the tired machismo of cock-rockers who've just stumbled on sideburns, '65 Mustangs and their old man's porn collection? Or is it the laconic malevolence of the gangsta rap that ended up turning the gun on itself, lyrically and literally? With anger ringing hollow and bands fighting to get into the stadium rather than burn it down, there's something wrong here. United Kingdom of Punk 2 is a big, sloppy "fuck you" to all that and more. The sequel to last year's first volume, number two collects 16 more tracks from the heyday of British punk in the late '70s--and like the scene it documents, it's a glorious mess. The only thing getting most of these songs through to the end is an exuberant "us against them" attitude and momentum. Lager, piss and vinegar are the fuel of choice. Forget dismal reunion tours and mass-produced anarchy t-shirts: United Kingdom of Punk 2 offers a far-better snapshot of a great, productive time when the aesthetic was D.I.Y., not A&R.
ARTO LINDSAYNoon Chill
EX-DNA/LOUNGE Lizard/Ambitious Lovers member Arto Lindsay has previously bounced schizophrenically between albums of skronk guitar cacophony and gorgeous Brazilian bossa nova. Here he frequently steals the ominous instrumentation of the former to support the tropical rhythms of the latter, all of it presenting obtuse lyrics sung in Lindsay's eerie, unmistakable voice. Musicians from both sides of his personality--including Melvin Gibbs and Peter Scherer on the NYC side; Vincius Cantuaria and Nana Vasconcelos on the Rio side--work together to make Lindsay's still-developing style more than the sum of its parts.
VARIOUS ARTISTSThe Jewish Alternative Movement: A Guide For the Perplexed
IF JEWS COULD apply their customs to radically different cultures--from Ethiopia to Siberia, say--how hard could it be to mix with New York's downtown music scene? The idea of "radical Jewish culture," conceived by groups like John Zorn's Masada as a subset of the larger avant garde scene, has now blossomed into a "Jewish Alternative Movement" big enough to warrant its own label. To kickoff the Knitting Factory's J.A.M. imprint, 15 acts representing the wide spectrum of modern Jewish music--including better-knowns like the Klezmatics (doing psychedelic klezmer) and Hasidic New Wave (with a skronky Yiddish drinking song) alongside relative outsiders such as Wally Brill and Neshama Carlebach--were assembled onto A Guide for the Perplexed. J.A.M. pioneers like Zorn and guitarist Marc Ribot are noticeably absent, though their influence is felt in the music of groups such as Paradox Trio and Naftule's Dream. This "guide" forgoes cohesion in the interests of maximum breadth and lumps together bebop "Hava Nagila," cantorial ambient, Jewish-themed spoken word, wanky Middle Eastern jazz fusion, and droney prayer adaptations into a postmodern cholent of appropriation. You'd be right to brand the concept of Jewish alternative music as something of a gimmick, but thankfully, the music itself rarely sounds forced. And anyway, requirements of authenticity are largely beside the point.
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