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October 24th, 2001 John Graham, Chris Hofgren, Jenny Tatone | Sonic Reducer
 

Of Human Bondies

Reviews of albums by the Von Bondies, Flux Information Sciences and James "Blood" Ulmer

     
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THE VON BONDIES: LACK OF COMMUNICATION (Sympathy for the Record Industry)

Heart-wrenching, arousing, mean, dirty and rough rock 'n' roll, with enough chill jazzy and dark bluesy sides to make you snap your fingers and tap your toes.

The Von Bondies' music is gritty, intense, raw and booming, led by Jason Stollsteimer's throaty, pleading, rockabilly-tinged singing. Being a Detroit four-piece, you can feel their regional, seedy '60s garage-rock influence, and the new album's dynamic, swaggering sound is satisfying in that jazzy hepcat way. You feel so cool just listening to it. Loud and electrified but stripped-down, their fiery rock sound is simple ("Nite Train" uses only two chords throughout), effective and thunderous. "No Sugar Mama" ("I don't need no sugar mama/ To pay my bills/ I've got 20 dollars just to/ fill my thrills") is perhaps the standout of the 11 tracks, with its infectious, vintage-cabaret melodies and inclusion of female singing, presented duet-style. Made sensual by impassioned, begging and often shaky croons, the relatively slowed-down "Cass & Henry" moves at a slithering pace with jazzy cymbal taps, stuttering drum rolls and a great, bluesy guitar line. Here, Stollsteimer switches between belting emotionally and speak-singing: "There stood my faith, my own/ Reflection, bitterness more often than love/ So I bought a gun, took a pill, hung a rope/ To reach to my love/ But I had no bullets, just an aspirin, bitterness/ More often than love." With Lack of Communication, The Von Bondies have created an impassioned and amazing sound all their own. (JT)

The Von Bondies play Sunday, Oct. 28, at Satyricon, 125 NW 6th Ave., 243-2380. 10 pm. Cover.

FLUX INFORMATION SCIENCES: PRIVATE/PUBLIC (Young God)

Industrial-strength skronk specially
formulated to kill your television.

Brutal, yet often brutally comic, industrialized anti-funk by European ex-pats who now broadcast from the sewer of Brooklyn, N.Y. Flux Information Sciences make music with and about the detritus of our cancerous consumer culture, their clangorous smash-and-grab raids mimicking/mocking the jump-cut commercials and disposable products that clutter society's gutters. One second, they're bashing rigidly on metal, like a piledriver laying the foundation for GigantoCorp's latest skyscraping eyesore. The next, they're slipping into jolly bleeps and saccharine melodies plucked from a shoestore jingle. Then, suddenly, they're leveling the whole mess, swinging percussion like a two-ton wrecking ball through walls of Casio-sampled noise and No Wave guitars. And the vocals? Kinda like a jester run amok on angel dust--manic and murderous, yet somehow funny,
ranting advo-speak non-sequiturs with song titles such as "Liposuction," "Jewelry," "Accessories," "Parking/Shopping," "Supermarket" and "Dollar Days." It's postmodernism with a skewed sense of purpose, a manifesto that makes no overt demands, parodying while it pummels. And, as explosive as it is, it's more troublesome fun than any dumb war. You're either for them or against them. Sign up now. (JG)

JAMES "BLOOD" ULMER: MEMPHIS BLOOD: THE SUN SESSIONS (Label M)

A cutting-edge tribute to dirty roots blues.

Guitarist James "Blood" Ulmer is known to jazz and funk fans for playing with Ornette Coleman in harmolodic ensembles such as Prime Time. With Memphis Blood: The Sun Sessions, he channels his raw, honest musical expression in more traditional directions to pay tribute to blues greats. The resulting album, produced by Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid, glows with the righteous energy of the titans who stomped at its namesake studio 30 years ago. Ulmer delivers alternately urgent and relaxed blues singing on classics by Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Son House, Otis Rush, Howlin' Wolf and the late John Lee Hooker (to whom the album's dedicated). Ulmer and his backing cohorts turn in a performance worthy of these artists. One true thrill comes when Reid ripples his own guitar solo through Rush's "Double Trouble." Guts and sincerity make this album a must-have for blues fans. (CH)

 
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