|by Blair Fraipont|
|Electronic Sounds and Elvis Artist: Elvis Costello Album: King of America Label: Rhino
Holding off nearly to the end of his cycle of re-mastered albums, Costello re-releases 1986's King of America once more. The album includes a dazzling second disc chock full of demos, outtakes, and live covers from a concert from the same era. For historical purposes there is an encompassing essay written by the man himself in regards to the making of the album.
The original record has become somewhat of a closet cult-classic. Although not name-checked as much in the musical press, it is more of a fan fetish and favorite for those in adoration of the American roots music influences inherent throughout. Costello displays a talent for swapping genres with deft turns without making the whole affair a dodgy hodge-podge.
He alters between his own biting and beautiful sound ("Suit of Lights," "Jack of All Parades" and "Brilliant Mistake"), country ("Indoor Fireworks"), blues both raucous ("Eisenhower Blues") and painful ("Poisoned Rose") and spare folk-like balladry ("Sleep of the Just" and "I'll wear it proudly").
King of America is highly recommended for those who admire Elvis Costello's witty word play and thoughtful lyricism and his undying ability to incorporate eclectic musical influences as his own.
For Further Listening: Elvis Costello: The Delivery Man on Lost Highway Records
Artist: M.I.A. Album: Arular Label: XL
As one listens to the upbeat virulent bumble-bee bass and off-key exclamations as made by Maya Arulragasam (otherwise known as M.I.A) on "Pull up the People" they should be delighted by the playful mixture of upbeat sequencing, electronica and a hip-hop attitude.
Having grown up partially in her native Sri Lanka amongst its civil war more than a decade ago, M.I.A. exudes a worldly ornery nature which bubbles beneath the seemingly ridiculous lyrics and upbeat tracks on Arular. What seems to appeal to the ears is the original personality and style that is neither weighed down by typical hip-hop, electronica, or production standards.
Arular is enchanting dance fun which culminates in the seven minute long "Galang" which is so far M.I.A.'s calling card. What is even more engaging throughout Arular's 39 minutes is below the surface: a youthful and political voice inspiring dance, passion and movement.
Artist: Thievery Corporation Album: The Cosmic Game Label: Esl Music
Thievery Corporation's mix of music employs low-key or "downbeat" grooves, foreign sounds, ambient touches and masterful production. The Cosmic Game, their sixth disc, is a continuation of this sound yet while including a cast of stars such as The Flaming Lips, David Byrne, Perry Farrell, and Sista Pat.
Fortunately, unlike most star-studded albums which tend to sound incoherent or desperate, The Cosmic Game leaves no stain on the career or direction of Thievery Corporation. The music is the perfect blend for a late night soiree, pensive chill-out alone time, or whatever this beautifully somber disc urges you to do.
Artist: Fripp & Eno Album: The Equatorial Stars Label: Opal
It has been 30 years since Robert Fripp (guitarist and mastermind of King Crimson) and Brian Eno (innovator of ambient music) recorded Evening Star their previous record together. The Equatorial Stars is different only in that the tape-loop experiments of "Frippertonics" are absent.
What is left includes a mysterious and often chilling blend of atmosphere and sound. Fripp's guitar notes are long, sustained and often muffled in the mix stretching and soaring over and throughout the synthetic abyss of Eno's dark and moody textures. This music is perfect for headphones and a careful and patient ear. It is a shame it took 30 years to make another record such as this.
Blair Fraipont is a regular contributor to Letters from CAMP Rehoboth. He may be reached by e-mail in care of firstname.lastname@example.org.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 5 May 20, 2005