Weekly Wire
The Boston Phoenix Howie B

Turn the Dark Off

By Michael Freedberg

OCTOBER 13, 1997:  Funky and spacy and sometimes truly weird, this almost entirely instrumental album of electronic groove shows its creator's painstaking attention to textural detail. Some of his chosen sounds gleam, albeit lightly, like the nerdiest synth-pop; others shimmy, heavily, like Massive Attack or the Sneaker Pimps. At the music's lower octaves, darkness rules, gothic style. These days, though, darkness breeds clichés instead of drama, and detail connotes surface instead of profundity. Which undercuts the suggestiveness of Howie B's songwriting and reduces the truly trippy "Take Your Partner by the Hand" to a noirish joke -- narrated by Robbie Robertson, of all people, in the role of a Sam Spade type who trails a cross-dressed couple from dancing in "catacombs" to riding a department-store elevator in search of their joint obsessions: "ladies' handbags and shoes, leather accessories, and electronics."

-- Michael Freedberg

Weekly Wire Suggested Links

  • Howie B - Catch a review by Electronicmusic.com
  • Howie B - An interview from exPOSEd

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