Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2019-05-31
Lee "Scratch" Perry: Rainford (On-U Sound, 2019) Riddled with reissues, collaborations, bootlegs, remixes, and of course dubs, the Upsetter's catalogue is beyond comprehension. Post 2011, when he turned 75, Wikipedia lists 13 albums while omitting more titles than I'm mad enough to compare-and-contrast from Spotify's offerings; upsetter.net credits 30 undated albums to "Lee Perry" and 12 more to "Lee Perry &"; etc. But if you care about the greatest of the dubmasters, this project, overseen for the 84-year-old by great white dubmaster Adrian Sherwood, is an album that holds together. Is there a single track as head-turning as, to name a few personal faves, "I Am a Psychiatrist," "Messy Appartment," or "Poop Song"? Definitely the "Autobiography of the Upsetter" finale, possibly the "Cricket on the Moon" opener, but in the end it doesn't matter, because all nine tracks achieve both solidity and differentiation--sound good without sounding too much like any of the others. Take a wild guess and thank Sherwood, whose 1983 African Head Charge release Drastic Season has won my ears and heart as I've done my due diligence. I'll never know where this album stands or sprawls in Perry's oeuvre, But I do know that it will now replace 2004's Panic in Babylon as my go-to Upsetter. A-
Sneaks: Highway Hypnosis (Merge, 2019) Former Shitstain Eva Moolchan's 2016 album was one-woman minimalist rock of real but limited charm. Here she goes electro-experimental and expands the music exponentially, so that it coheres sonically even though every track is different--here charming and there disruptive, here droney and there catchy (or maybe both, like the dubwise 1:39 "Addis"). The atmospheric "Beliefs" repeats the mantra "Remove your beliefs and start again" seven times in 2:42 as if shaken to the core by whoever inspired the 56-second mantra "Holy Cow I Never Saw a Girl Like Her." Half an hour of musical whimsy that never waits long enough to get old. A-
Tanya Tagaq: Toothsayer (Six Shooter EP, 2019) On a widely streamable not-(yet?)-for-sale EP commissioned to add aural buzz to the British National Maritime Museum's "Polar Worlds" exhibit, the throat-singing Inuk avant-gardist assumes all vocal and compositional responsibilities. No hip-hop, no Nirvana covers, not even any male-sounding shamanistic croaks--the closest analogy is Fluxus-period Yoko Ono with the disruptive techniques referencing content more concrete, organic, and political than shock for education's sake or existential despair. We can hear this because we know how urgently Tagaq cares about both global warming and indigenous peoples. For half an hour she emits dozens of nonverbal sounds well beyond croons and screams--squeaks, belches, agonized gutturals, many more. This is music that mourns the end of the world. She wants it to disturb us, and it should. A-
Select Review DatesGet unique date list.