Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2011-01-21


Eskmo: Eskmo (Ninja Tune, 2010) The first solo album by San Francisco mixmaster Brendan Angelides, who was unknown to me because most mixmasters are, caught my ear before I read its few reviews, several of which compare him unfavorably to NYC gloomster Matthew Dear. Take that as a compliment. Dear's good tracks are well-ordered verse-chorus-verse by comparison, and he feels compelled to sing or intone where Angelides usually lets his textures ooze, thump, and crackle for themselves. This they proceed to do in what strikes this glitch-challenged listener as an exceptionally active and full-bodied manner. Not terribly beaty and almost never fast. Just the kind of weird background music that's guaranteed to engross whenever you lend it both ears. A-

Flying Lotus: Cosmogramma (Warp, 2010) Never what most would call dancefloor-friendly, Steven Ellison goes all extended-work on us for 45 minutes, but that doesn't mean the 17 tracks just morph on. A few times they come close, but more often they pause and transition and sometimes they shift gears altogether--the whole is segmented, but subtly. Live harp to live bass to looped/sampled beats; bassy dream-pop to jazz scat to chipmunk space-kitsch. Part of its delight is how naturally the disparate parts fit together, but another part is how they add up to phantasmagoria if you let your attention wander (and don't be a tight-ass--you should). Thom Yorke contributes a vocal so modest and treated that you'll barely notice it's there. Not so the ping-pong volleys--part live and part looped, I think--that provides climactic end-game percussion. A-

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