Rhythm & Views
July 21, 1997:
ARTO LINDSAY REMIXES
ANYONE WHO HEARD Arto Lindsay's 1996 album The Subtle Body, a record of fairly conventional Brazilian bossa nova pop, had to be at least a bit surprised. Not by his choice of music: Lindsay grew up in Brazil and has incorporated elements its music as far back as the mid '80s, with the Ambitious Lovers, and arguably even earlier with his skronky no-wave band DNA. And not by his choice of collaborators: He'd worked before with avant pop godheads like Brian Eno, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Caetano Veloso, and it was natural to include New Yorker downtowners like Cibo Matto and Blonde Redhead. What was unexpected, though, from a man who'd made his name as king of the untuned guitar and horrific shriek (and continues in that capacity for John Zorn) was that Lindsay could handle his material so lovingly and gently. Incorporating samples and synth textures with his understated vocals, and mixing programmed drums with Latin percussion, The Subtle Body emerged as a disarmingly sultry and thoroughly contemporary (and accessible) creation.
Much the same can be said for the new Mundo Civilizado, Lindsay's second successful jazz pop foray. The record continues along the path Lindsay began last time, but delves further into electronic music by setting many of his acoustic compositions to the beats of DJ Spooky and Mutamassik. Though not as tied to bossa nova (he covers Al Green and Prince, though still occasionally sings Portuguese), Mundo makes ample use of Brazilian percussion that blends seamlessly with the electronics. Given the rapid-fire intricacies of both, in fact, it's sometimes difficult to tell which is which. Hyper Civilizado--a companion remix album featuring Spooky and Mutamassik as well as Sub Dub, Brazilian DJ Soul Slinger, and others--takes the electronica component to the extreme. Featuring three reworkings of Mundo's "Complicity" (plus two remixes each of the title track and "Q Samba"), Hyper offers everything from SPIT's "Lyrical Mix," which replaces much of the music but keeps the vocal melody, to Mutamassik's "M28 Mix," which retains only one word and one drum while infusing a Middle Eastern rhythm to the track. While Hyper's compositions are all the better because they're rooted in song, the record is still best heard in the context of--and as a complement to--Lindsay's original.
PUNKABILLY. COWPUNK. TWANGCORE. These are all generalized terms used to describe the rockabilly-gone-hardcore musical hybrid of Los Infernos. Envision Reverend Horton Heat's rhythm section backing Fear vocalist, Lee Ving, and the combination of slap-dash rhumba and break-neck pace becomes engagingly overwhelming. Hillbilly and hardcore hooligans clash in the parking lot of a seedy, rundown drive-in. The clamor of broken beer bottles and swinging chains fuses in repulsive yet delightful unison. "Planet Chaos" could serve as the soundtrack for "American Graffiti," were it set in the tattooed-and-pierced '90s instead of the Brylcreem-and- bubble-gum '60s. If low-riders listened to punk rock rather than gangsta rap, they'd probably enjoy the dichotomy of the bygone hotrod and greaser era melded with the raging, knockout oomph of these present-day roadhouse ruffians.
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