Volume 92, Issue 17
Thursday, October 1, 1998
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Chemicals running in Brothers and Zappa
The Chemical Brothers
Brothers Gonna Work It Out
While the advent of electronica has infused music with some much needed excitement and originality, it has also spawned a dubious new genre the remix album. There is nothing more frustrating than uninspired and uncreative remixes of the same song.
The Chemical Brothers obviously realize this too. After enjoying both critical and commercial success with their last studio album, Dig Your Own Hole, it would have been easy for them to release an album full of watered-down club remixes of "Setting Sun" and "Block Rockin' Beats." Fortunately, rather than commissioning other acts to rework their own songs, the Chemicals have instead decided to stamp their own indelible mark on the work of such artists as Atari Teenage Riot, the Manic Street Preachers and Spiritualized.
In a sense, this record is a return to roots for the Chemical Brothers. Although their own compositions have always brimmed with an unparalleled excitement and freshness, the band has always maintained they feel most at home behind the DJ table, mixing and splicing together unlikely combinations of other people's music.
Brothers Gonna Work It Out is an opportunity for them to do just that. The result is an engaging mix of samples, beats and sonic experimentation, which will probably raise the bar for remix albums to come. Let's just hope somebody out there is listening.
Mystery Disc, the newest release from the Frank Zappa archive, offers a behind-the-scenes look at the late musician through rare and unreleased tracks. While the disc may succeed as a documentary, it fails musically. Rare and unreleased tracks are usually rare and unreleased for a reason.
The 35 tracks consist of rehearsal sessions, live shows and a few spoken word pieces. Hefty liner notes written by Zappa give a brief history to each song. This is a good thing, as some of the stranger pieces, such as "The Birth of Captain Beefheart" and "The Story of Willie the Pimp" would be completely incoherent without explanation.
While the compilation is interesting for fans, the majority of tracks on Mystery Disc aren't enjoyable to the ear. Zappa's trademark wit pops up from time to time, but not with the frequency seen in most of his albums. The album suffers from low level "fuzzy radio" quality.
However, Mystery Disc does have a couple of good songs and Zappa's musical genius manages to come through. In "Speed Freak Boogie," he layers masterful lead guitar work over a bluesy rhythm to create a head-nodding experience. That same guitar comes back with a darker edge in "Black Beauty," an intense experimental piece which ends with a satisfying collision of percussion, yelling and odd noises.
Not a commercial album by any stretch of the imagination, Mystery Disc is best left to Frank Zappa collectors.
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