Thursday, August 9, 2007
GOGOL BORDELLO | Super Taranta | Side One Dummy Records
“If we are here not to do/ what you and I wanna do/ and go forever crazy with it,/ why the hell we are even here?” asks Eugene Hutz at the opening of Super Taranta. Then, with a guttural cry, he summons the rest of the band into the mix, and immediately you want to start jumping up and down to the carnival-like rhythm.
That’s the Gogol Bordello effect, and thus it’s no surprise that their live shows are infamous. On disc, however, the urge to go nuts clashes with the fact that, most likely, you are listening while trapped before speakers or between headphones. With his opening question, Hutz urges you to throw aside the album and kick open your front door. Why listen to Super Taranta when you can throw some clothes in a knapsack, hop on a train or bus and find your way to Gogol Bordello’s next show?
But without a crowd of sweaty, flailing arms and legs, Super Taranta falls short. Clocking in at over an hour, the CD can only spin for so long before your mind wanders. There are good moments, like the slower-paced tipsiness of “Alcohol” and the infectious, swooning build-up of “Dub The Frequencies Of Love,” but, as a whole, Super Taranta lacks cohesiveness outside of the fact that it consistently makes you wish you were gulping down cheap wine and watching the band strut their colorful costumes around the stage.
Big fans might want to pick this one up, as the production successfully captures Gogol Bordello’s energetic trans-European sound, but if you’re more intrigued by the actual physical manifestation of Hutz’s rambling spirit, wait until this pack of vagabond folk-punks returns to town. —John Ruscher
CHEMICAL BROTHERS | We Are the Night | Astralwerks
Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons trade in their mix of traditional psychedelic house and big-beat-laden sound for a lighter, more commercial approach while still proving that the London pros know how to mix a bloody record.
Their latest isn’t shy of celebrity appearances: The Klaxons’ vocal loop and singing on “All Rights Reversed” is reminiscent of Surrender’s “Hey Boy Hey Girl.” And Fatlip teams up with Sammy the Salmon (trust me, it’s a talking fish) to create the ridiculous yet laughable “The Salmon Dance,” a tune that will quickly become the lazy man’s “Humpty Dance.” Despite the rich percussion dance track “Saturate” contributing to the party, We Are the Night loses steam after “The Salmon Dance,” leaving the Brothers’ latest needing something more than celebrities and a dance-along to hold listeners’ attention. —Brian Holcomb
BOB MARLEY AND THE WAILERS | Roots, Rock, Remixed | Quango Fontana
It’s difficult to improve on perfection, but in some cases it can be done. Almost. Just listen to the reconstructed “Love” by the Beatles. In an attempt to update the nearly perfect legacy of Bob Marley, various producers, DJs, and mixologists have taken a dozen of his songs and treated them. Some are treated well, but others leave a little to be desired. What seems to work best is the straightforward enhancement of Marley’s songs, using the technology to bring beats to the forefront while allowing the essence of the original versions to remain intact. Bombay Dub Orchestra’s handling of “Lively Up Yourself” is a good example of the soft touch. What doesn’t work is the extension and extreme modifications heard in Trio Eletrico’s “Trenchtown Rock.” Even though this project has the Marley family’s blessings, does it really accomplish its goals in a way that would make Bob say, “Yeah, mon?” —James Kelly