Jul 282010
 

By Megan Neff

Julian Lynch, Mare

It’s been a week now.  I’m still trying to clear my head enough to write this review.  It seems no amount of undisturbed space within my mind will be sufficient.  But that’s sort of the way this album goes.  Attempting level-headedness while underwater.

Technically speaking, it all adds up.  Lynch, a former Smithsonian Folkways Recrodings employee, now studies ethnomusicology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  An expertise in music spanning decades and genres is apparent in the album’s very fabric.  World blends with folk blends with ambient electronic.  Ancient wood keeps time with modern synthetics.

A funereal Dixieland jazz band beams through the sunburnt pop of “A Day at the Racetrack.”  Old grows into new according to a precise diatribe.  A melody buds along the snaking vine of a tribal rhythm.  Dusty guitar-picking gives way to a muffled chorus within a sedate pop song.

More than logic or technicalities, though, this album induces a feeling.  With Mare, Lynch explores the divide between past and future tense.  And in doing so, takes us into a perfectly beautiful present where perhaps words are not enough.

Jim O’Rourke, All Kinds of People ~ Love Burt Bacharach

We have all been had by a pop song at some point.   And Burt Bacharach is undeniably one of the most dangerous seducers in American history.  As if his eternally perfect salt and pepper comb-over were not enough, he had in his arsenal the melodious perfection of “Walk on By” and “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.”

With All Kinds of People ~ Love Burt Bacharach, musician and producer Jim O’Rourke has made Burt Bacharach over in a way that would have made Dionne Warwick happy.  And in this special music episode of Fashion Emergency, the songs get a refreshing, if not slightly warped, makeover.  Electronic glitches make room for a breezy jazz piano.  Perfect pitch is replaced by off-kilter vocals and the occasional mispronunciation.

Though a bit tongue-in-cheek, the album is playfully earnest and doesn’t sacrifice the integrity of the original songs. Guest vocalists include O’Rourke’s former bandmate, Thurston Moore, and names in the Japanese music scene like Haruomi Hosono (Yellow Magic Orchestra) and free jazzers Akira Sakata and Masaya Nakahara.

The concept may seem slightly silly, but then what good pop song isn’t?  O’Rourke pulls off the stunt with expert instrumentation, impeccable production and his personal brand of pop mojo.

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