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 V.18 No.31 | July 30 - August 5, 2009 

Sonic Reducer

Portugal. The Man The Satanic Satanist (Equal Vision)

Portugal. The Man's fourth album in as many years was recorded in a week and a half. The Wasilla, Alaska foursome clearly thrives on brevity: The Satanic Satanist is richly textured, finely tuned and gorgeously orchestrated. There's a certain cosmic-carnival taste you can lick off the spiraling guitars, and nearly every song flows into the next, making the record seem like a continuous psychedelic jam. (That shouldn't surprise anyone who picks up the CD, since the cover art is nothing if not trippy.) Portugal. The Man continues to streamline its sound without telegraphing its next move. (SM)

RX Bandits Mandala (Sargent House)

RX Bandits is totally unrecognizable from its first incarnation as a ska-punk band in the late ’90s. The horns have been essentially disregarded and replaced with a tirelessly crafted rubber-band ball of guitar riffs, delay pedals and erratic drums. When the songs change course, it's not a matter of tempo. The tracks become something totally different midstream. A mosh pit starter turns into a funk jam and a complicated mess suddenly becomes a straight line. This record must be slogged through to be enjoyed, and it’s brutal the first few times it hits your ears. But soon the complexities aren't roadblocks; they become hidden nuggets of incredible musicianship planted all over Mandala's terrain. (SM)

Solid Ghost Disconcerto No. 1 (

Late at night up in the Manzanos, Arnold Bodmer and Justin Parker—collectively known as Solid Ghost—and friends create intriguing musical collages from toys, acoustic and electric instruments, samplers, household items, percussion, vocalizations, and more. When done poorly, this approach is equivalent to having your ear planted against a heat duct in an apartment building and listening to the garbled slices of many lives incoherently mixed. When it’s done well, as it is on Disconcerto No. 1 (for 2 Humans and a Forest), it sounds like someone is sampling our planet and making evocative music out of it all. (MM)

(SM) Simon McCormack, (MM) Mel Minter


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