Volume 92, Issue 89
Wednesday, March 18, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Casing the joint for a little funked up house
As the next millennium is quickly dawning on us, new groups are hogging all the room in the proverbial spotlight.
Cassius are one of the acts doing just that. This group, residing out of Paris, France, is comprised of two members, Philippe Zdar and Boombass. Although this is the duo's debut effort as Cassius, these two have been dwelling in the European underground scene for some time now, working and producing with groups such as Mc Solaar, La Funk Mob and Motorbass.
After a full listen, some critics say it's tough to particularize the album's genre of music, but in reality it is harder to say what genre it is not. This album spans the musical spectrum, including aspects of hip hop, trance, funk, disco and house. The latter is the style in which most would classify, but in the group's modest, yet flamboyant opinion, they see it as funk or "sexy music."
The title track, "Cassius 1999," is a great beginning point of the album, as it boasts an extremely energetic feeling with many intertwined beats and rhythms which enhance the French-accented lyrics. This track's remix, destined to be a club favorite, is also on the album.
Creative methods are used in songs such as "Somebody," which comprised of a sped up beatbox sample, contribute to a pseudo hip hop feel.
1999's entirety is laced with infectious grooves which will garner any uncoordinated listener to get up and bust a move. Add it to your collection. Now.
Waste of Mind
Zebrahead creates an interesting blend of hard rock and rap which will knock you out.
The two vocalists are lead singer Justin "Goldtoof" Mauriella and rapper Ali Tabatabaee. Mauriella is a very melodic singer who can really carry a tune. Tabatabaee utilizes a fast paced rapping style appropriate to high tempo tracks like "Get Back" and "Check" but can also slow it down on songs like "The Real Me."
The band manages to take a variety of influences and make them work together, creating seamless songs. Zebrahead's songs range from the upbeat "Time" to the pop friendly title track to dance friendly songs such as "Bootylicious Vinyl."
What all of the music has in common is a good hook and a catchy chorus. While many of the tracks are full of energy, Zebrahead manages to harness their energy and make music rather than noise.
Zebrahead does not try to express a great message, nor write from pain, they simply make enjoyable music.
In their attempt to create these songs, Zebrahead does not limit themselves instrumentally. They use not only the electric guitar, bass and drums, but also instruments such as horns and vinyl scratching.
More than simply making use of a variety of styles and instruments, Zebrahead plays the instruments with great ability. You can actually hear the clear differentiation of chords when the electric guitar is played. The music is very clean and well produced.
Zebrahead puts together an album with a complete melodic package and connoisseurs of rap will enjoy the stylings of Ali Tabatabaee. Hard rockers and metal fans will enjoy the heavy use of well played electric guitar, while pop groupies will cling to the choruses and melodies.
Music fans in general should enjoy Zebrahead's Waste of Mind. Zebrahead has created a quality album with a hybridization of musical styles.
Apple Venus Volume One
Apple Venus Volume One marks XTC's triumphant return from a seven-year hiatus. Plagued by label problems, serious illness, divorce and the unexpected departure of longtime guitarist David Gregory, the remaining members of XTC spent over a year in the studio mapping out the complex arrangements to this dense and sometimes difficult record.
The result is a challenging, intricately layered album, which continues to reveal itself after numerous listens. Described as the band's "orchestral" album, Apple Venus Volume One melds synthetic string gurglings with trumpet blasts, erratic drum loops and XTC's trademark harmonies.
Despite the cacophony, lead singer Andy Partridge's first-class pop songs are still prevalent throughout the album. From the meandering and classically-tinged opener "River Of Orchids" to the truly Beatlesque "I'd Like That," Partridge demonstrates his lengthy hibernation from the pop world hasn't affected his talent one bit.
In order to appease those who may be deterred by the marriage of this abstract new style with Partridge's traditional brand of tunesmithery, XTC promise an imminent follow up to this album, consisting of more traditional arrangements.
In the meantime, Apple Venus Volume One serves as an excellent example of a comeback album which doesn't suffer from stagnancy.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999