Rhythm + Views


Rabbit Moon Revisited

I'M HAVING A Trio moment at the record store. Some tattooed love-boy came in yesterday looking for that record with "Da Da Da" on it, because his pop "really thinks that VW commercial is funny." Now, Herr Father is trading the disc in, saying it's "moronic and unlistenable." What, I mused to myself, would have happened if Volkswagen had tagged a group of current German artists for ad-shilling chores instead of a moldy oldie? Would the analog burp-and-groan motifs of Tarwater now play nightly on our TV? Bastard offspring of Robert Moog, Tarwater can be minimalist and trance-like; Tar Revisited sounds like Kraftwerk joined by an electric bassist and a reciting poet. The duo can also be abrasive and vertiginous; "Rabbit Moon" is a melange of tumbling drums, scratchy vinyl samples, and the buzzing of electronic bugs. In between those extremes lies a wealth of intriguing sounds, from gurgling, funky electronica and sleek 'n' cheeky Prog hearkening back to mid-'70s Krautrock, to just plain experimental soundscapes. "Hey dude, you got any Kriedler or To Rococo Rot here?" Shaken from my reverie by yet another young ambassador from the Pierced Generation, I smile and reply brightly, "Glad you asked, kid." Right over here--and we stock another German experimental group too, Tarwater. Did I mention that all three groups have members in common?

--Fred Mills

Question Mark and the Mysterians

Do You Feel It Baby?

MOST ROCK-AND-roll connoisseurs can instantaneously recognize the simple, repetitive two-note organ-pounding introduction to "96 Tears," the greatest garage punk anthem ever recorded. Well, Question Mark and the Mysterians, who unleashed that epic, Vox-driven garage nugget, back in 1966, have reunited 30 years later fully intact to unleash Do You Feel It Baby? on today's pseudo-hip alternative audience. These five basement-born Michigan cave dwellers begot a thousand faceless garage bands with the million-selling "96 Tears," forever fuel-injecting the scene with greasy, hip-grinding, organ-drenched fervor. Recorded last October at the Cave Stomp Fest in New York City, the sunglasses bespectacled Question Mark demonstrates he's one of the most charismatic and mysterious figures in the annals of rock 'n' roll. This enthralling live document is a twisted mixture of cockiness, lust and frustration, and the nasal vocals and hypnotic two-chord organ vamps that made Question Mark a punk progenitor. At times, they sound like a cross between the Doors and Texas Tornados. A melding of '60s psychedelic rock-grooves and a festive Tex-Mex dancehall party bubble to the surface, especially on the romping "Can't Get Enough Of You Baby," and the psycho lovesick-tearjerker "Do Something To Me."

--Ron Bally


Hello Nasty

SO I'M DRIVING my sports utility vehicle down a near-northside boulevard, earring and fast-graying ponytail shining in the morning sun, feeling too old and pure to be a yuppie despite my general affect and material surroundings, then feeling, well, just a little bit glum about the whole matter, when a couplet rises from the crisp mix of Hello Nasty, piercing into my consciousness like a diamond bullet: "I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast/but I'm intercontinental when I eat French toast." Aha, I think, feeling clued in at last, Zeitgeist-wise: so that's what the kids mean when they talk about World Beat. I mean, here are these three nice Jewish boys from Scarsdale by way of the East Village, orating as if they'd gone to school in Compton, backing their tracks with Afro-Cuban polyrhythms and Jamaican dub and Latino pop stylings--and if there were any doubt of their global credentials, well, they've worked international cuisine into the formula, to boot. Very cosmopolitan, that, and very funky, and commercially shrewd; there's an IHOP ad in these hip-hoppers' future. Now, the liner copy doesn't say a word about this World Beat stuff; instead, it makes mention of "heavy rock." Chalk that up to the trio's youth, I grumble, nosing said SUV into the parking lot of a fashionable café where rap music is definitely not well represented on the jukebox. Let the kids hear Blue Cheer's Vincebus Eruptum; then they'll know heavy rock for what it is. But I'm not inclined to fuss over small-scale semantics, now that my superannuated cochlea have feasted on "Super Disco Breakin'," "Body Movin'," "The Grasshopper Unit," "The Negotiation Limerick File," and 20-odd other tunes on this massively wonderful disc. These beasties can rock. And rhyme, too.

--Gregory McNamee

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