You should be screaming Niggy Tardust at the top of your lungs
By Simon McCormack
It's tough to get a read on rapper, actor and slam poet Saul Williams. He seems to have a great deal of faith in the average person, but he's not interested in catering to anyone's tastes. His work is at once purely self-assured and fragile. Williams’ poetic verse quietly but forcefully makes the case for change while the riotous sounds behind him demand it.
Kiss spring's perennial blush of coy colors and prim construction goodbye. For the next three months, autumnal layering and earth tones will ram headlong into the nubile silhouettes of summer. The new vernal look is literate, lithe and flecked with mud.
From the CD’s opening seconds, the ethereal touch, musicality and instinctual rhythmic excitement of Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba captivate the ears, heart and brain. Sidemen Yosvany Terry (saxes), Mike Rodriguez (trumpet, flügelhorn) and Albuquerque’s Matt Brewer (bass), who sometimes seems to share a brain with Marcus Gilmore (drums), collaborate with stunning precision. Original compositions from Rubalcaba, Terry and Brewer, whose indirect, disturbingly beautiful “Aspiring to Normalcy,” is a high point, join Horace Silver’s “Peace” (trio) and Alejandro Garcia Caturla’s “Preludio Corto No. 2 for Piano,” arranged for quintet by Rubalcaba. Avatar delivers lyrical contemporary jazz played at a very high level. (MM)
Crystal Castles • electropunk, synth pop, witch house
By August March
Remember the thing called Witch House? How about darkwave? The constant bifurcation of artistic paths in the field of electronic music can be damnably confusing and irritating, as well as rewarding and helluva lot of fun too—as long as you pick the right band. When adherents of these sorts of genres aren't busy sorting their rainbow-colored toe socks and looking for tubes of Vick's Vaporub to snatch up at the local Walmart, then it's a pretty fair bet that they are listening to the likes of Crystal Castles, a duo of Canuck electro-arhats who've made their mark in the music world with a febrile and spooky glitchiness that has outlasted any names critics might apply in favor of an honestly, intimidatingly pure exploration of sounds that make humans dance and rejoice as they swirl around the very noisy and icy maelstrom of life and death. Ethan Kath and Edith Frances, AKA Crystal Castles, perform live in Burque on Thursday, Oct. 19. Viewed as an opportunity to joyfully and ferociously embrace the void, this ought to be a damn good show, but don't blame me if you can't remember your name afterwards.
Here's a brief on a band with three names, but unlike Eliot's bunch, these dudes are not a coterie of cats. At home across the pond, they're known as the Beat. In the land down under, kindly refer to them as the British Beat. Here in 'Merica, we call them the English Beat. But no matter what you call them, this estimable ensemble that still includes founder and guitarist Dave Wakeling—but not vocalist Ranking Roger—was partially responsible for the upsurge in popularity that two-tone ska saw on both sides of the Atlantic during the '80s and '90s. With a retinue of classic, upbeat jams like “Monkey Murders,” “Spar Wid Me” and “Save It for Later,” the band's touring the states again, impressing OG ska lovers as well as the next generation of horn-crazy youth with their combination of crazy stage antics and terrific tuneage. You can catch the outfit live here at the Duke City on Sunday, Oct. 22, at the Historic El Rey Theatre, but don't worry you don't need checkerboard pants or a smart little hat to enjoy this gig—just make sure those great big feet of yours are rested and ready to dance.