Monday, June 16, 2008

Nona Hendryx- Big Fun

No more fun.

Lil Wayne's acclaimed Tha Carter III wasn't the best new release I purchased last week. Seeing Sounds is a strong contender for my favorite album of 2008.

N*E*R*D's new effort is ridiculously fun on its own merits. Still, N*E*R*D's detractors note that the vocals are amateurish and the lyrics are often spotty. As a first-call production team, the men of N*E*R*D are surely well aware of these points.

I contend that the project's alleged weaknesses are deliberate.

It's entirely possible that Seeing Sounds is a demo that was rejected by an artist, perhaps Gwen Stefani or the dude from Maroon 5. The star might have been baffled by the musical references to the Cars, Run-D.M.C., the Knack, Rockwell, Tears For Fears and De La Soul.

That's where the listener comes in.

I believe that N*E*R*D invites the listener to insert him or herself into the mix. It's the audio equivalent of a first-person shooter video game. It even sounds like something that might be blasting from a futuristic arcade.

Via interactive imagination, the listener is expected to add vocals, lyrical tweaks and small musical nuances to the mix. In my case, I insert a guest spot from Chuck D here, a sax solo there and a verse about nanotechnology in that part. See? Now it's perfect.

I feature a song from Nona Hendryx's Female Trouble because I associate her with similarly synthetic sonic environments and extravagantly high concepts. Dan Hartman's 1987 production is hopelessly dated, just as surely as Seeing Sounds will be in 21 years. But for this moment, it's truly "big fun."

I have no comment on the verdict of R. Kelly's trial, other than to express a strong hope that it inspires the wildly inconsistent artist to pursue his the more gospel-inspired aspects of his work. In many ways, he's our Marvin Gaye; I'd like more What's Going On and less Let's Get It On.

I read the New York Times' explanation for the frustrating unavailability of Joao Gilberto's catalog with great interest.

A full length movie musical shot in Lawrence, Kansas? Read the story and watch the trailer for Air here.

EST pianist Esbjörn Svensson died at 44. It's a big loss for the progressive jazz world.

Kansas City Click: "Born With a Tail" is easily my favorite "Hail Satan" song. The Supersuckers taunt the heavens tonight at Knuckleheads.

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