Alibi V.23 No.38 • Sept 18-24, 2014 

Sonic Reducer

U2 Songs of Innocence (Universal Music Group)

Bono, The Edge and their band of merry men, including producer Danger Mouse, are back. Their 13th studio effort Songs of Innocence is available now in your iTunes library. The physical version drops Oct. 13. Perhaps the digital release aims to prevent the Sheriff of Nottingham’s corporate, record-company cronies from cashing in on U2’s symbolically reluctant revolutionary rave-ups. Besides the ballsy allusion to Blake’s Fortean poetry, this album offers little in the way of innovation. Instead, it relies on tried and true references to work that made the band famous. At times pointy and swift as yon arrow, tunes like “Every Breaking Wave” fall back on past glories of revelatory lyrics sung with romantic emphasis, arena-rock declarations of faith and the world-conscious ethics of super-wealthy rock stars. The Edge plays for keeps here, but even his galaxy-conquering guitar antics can’t save this mashed-up recording. So much for number 13 ...

Post-LCD Soundsystem Nancy Whang comes closer to discovering her inner electro heart in duo The Juan MacLean. Their latest effort In a Dream finds Whang and collaborator MacLean seriously leaning into the windy synth-pop night. The work features spare and syncopated pieces like “A Simple Design.” But it’s notable for moody yet floridly synthetic set-pieces like the solar wind-driven “A Place Called Space”—which features some far out David Gilmour-esque guitar riffage courtesy of Six Finger Satellite veteran MacLean. This album has a dance floor built into its construction. Whang’s vocal stylings sometimes verge on cerebral minimalism, offering a tasty counterpoint to MacLean’s lush, meandering sense of melody and stark rhythmic capabilities. The great thing about In a Dream is its ability to offer listeners two versions of the world’s end: one where you can dance and the other where you can lean back and listen, in a trance.

Out now on New Cocoon Records, Summon the Scapegoat’s full-length, eponymous album is as indecipherable as it is freshly and uncomfortably enthralling. Self-categorized as hip-hop, this record is as far afield as the genre gets. It kinda sounds like what might have become of Insane Clown Posse had they relied on datura and ayahuasca—instead of Faygo—for inspiration. The flows are mostly blank, unrhymed and enigmatic. Scapegoat wanders tricksterlike through fields of competing musical inclinations as if to suggest the chaos and beauty of the world. “Garden of Obscure,” “Moonshoes” and “Weather to Wither” experiment with melody, turntablism and tape-chop techniques without regard to the sonic disturbances such endeavors may create. And that’s awesome. Scapegoat uses this recording to point out, sometimes rather ethereally, that Burque has some serious contenders to the left-field hip-hop throne that’s currently occupied by some dudes from the City of Angels.