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September 14th, 2005 Jason Simms, Jenny Tatone, Jeff Rosenberg | Album Reviews
 

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Euromotion Friday, Sept. 16

People from the future usher in "The Dawn of the Age of Dance."

[ELECTRO-DANCE] "In the future, the church will be a dance floor," sings Euromotion vocalist Skeeter in "Dance into the Future." But when, exactly, does that future start? According to Skeeter, a native of Germany who says he comes from the year 3012, it actually started last year or, as people of the future refer to 2004, "The Dawn of the Age of Dance." Purposefully marketing to such a pivotal time, the band of alleged time travelers began circulating a home-burned demo recording of their music in 2003.

The band's brand of electro-pop caught on so quickly that Euromotion's fourth performance ever sold out Nocturnal last January to a fashionable crowd that already knew all the songs. That's right. Hipsters were singing along-in public.

The band features five "beatpumpers" (futuristic jargon for "musicians"), including Otto and Antonio, a duo of "basspumpers," who play instruments that might be referred to in the parlance of our time as "Casios." Also "pumping" are a cyborg drummer named Manny and the timeless electric-guitar solos of Fritz.

While other futuristic bands, such as New York's Mathematicians or the very influential Kraftwerk, can come off as sterile or artificial, Euromotion's imperfect vocal harmonies and often boyish lyrics make their songs both danceable and honest. They sing from their technologically advanced hearts, not their ridiculous outfits (white fur, lights built-in), apparently drawing on emotions that we may not even understand.

The result is a silly, sweaty dance party, where people who think it's kitschy to dress like they did when they were 4 are actually inclined to dance like it, too. JASON SIMMS.

Album Reviews

METROPOLIS SWORDS

(Arena Rock Recordings)

Portland chamber-rock experimentalists pull in the reins on latest.

[CHAMBER POP] "We'll probably have a three-minute song on the next record," Swords drummer-keyboardist Evan Railton told the Portland Tribune two years ago. Close, but not exactly. The band's second full-length album, Metropolis, does find the Portland sextet uncovering pop structures previously hidden within walls of orchestration, but doesn't have them abandoning their cerebral, chamber-rock approach entirely. Alongside more accessible melodies, Metropolis also features a lead singer: bassist-vocalist Corey Ficken. Previous releases-2003's full-length debut, Entertainment Is Over If You Want It, and 2001's self-titled EP-buried unintelligible vocals in the mix; this time they are urgent and impassioned up front. But Swords haven't ditched the ideals they developed when they first formed as the Swords Project six years ago. They still write as a collective and won't allow any sound (and there are many of them) to overpower another. "The Product of Harm" opens the record with an infectious, spiraling guitar line, irresistible beats and warm vocals. The rollicking, gritty "Savage Republic" builds and breaks like a good rock song should, while the intensely emotional "Family Photographs" is, without doubt, the album's best song: "Up a stairway and down a hallway," Ficken sings softly, as if he's afraid someone might hear. "Heavy with the portraits that draw you in/ Showcasing the high times/ Blocking out the dark times." The aptly untitled, all instrumental fifth track shows that the six members of Swords still dig moody, improvised noise; they just prefer it with a bit more heart this time around. JENNY TATONE.

THIS IS THE Chris Robley

(Cutthroat Pop Records)

Local songwriter aims low and hits high with debut album.

[POP] It was supposed to be a three-song demo. Over four days last May, it expanded to an EP, then a full-length album. So Portland songwriter Chris Robley, part-time member of the Sort Ofs and the Imprints, is amazed that his debut solo disc, this is the, has been compared to the work of Elliott Smith, Badly Drawn Boy, even John Lennon. Robley and co-producer Adam Selzer surround the bones of Robley's songs with enveloping, three-dimensional sound. At times, this is the is bizarrely reminiscent of the Flaming Lips' play-all-four-discs-at-once epic, Zaireeka-there's so much going on in the mix, slightly off-kilter yet all coalescing, that you'd swear at least a couple CDs were playing simultaneously. Distorted guitar lines spiral obliquely in and out of earshot; odd percussion tracks linger, then vanish; electronic ghosts and disembodied sonic fragments lurk spookily around instruments and vocals. The album could have ended up being mere studio trickery, but Robley's songs are so strong he could deliver them given just an unamplified acoustic guitar. The production does enhance the singer's porous lyrical boundaries with the outside world; though emotional conflict is Robley's most common subject, political turmoil insinuates in songs like "Preamble" and "Mantra of a Melting American." Robley's singing, at his most urgent, indeed recalls Lennon's desperate-yet-melodic rasp, but it's evident he's not posturing to achieve the sound, just slipping comfortably into it like a pair of vintage Beatle boots that happen to perfectly fit his feet. JEFF ROSENBERG.


Euromotion plays with Mount Sims and Neighborhood DJ at the Doug Fir. 9 pm. $10. 21+.

 
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