Monday, February 8, 2010

Gil Scott-Heron
I’m New Here
XL Recordings

The music is barely present. It serves as various grooves, or foundations, and is always shortchanging itself by never sounding as rich or full as it could be. It’s the words that matter.

Most of these lyrics hit home, whether spoken or sung. Scott-Heron looks back on his life. He tells the truth, as he sees it, and it’s sometimes bitter, sometimes sad, and sometimes angry. “On Coming From a Broken Home, Parts 1 and 2,” he expresses love for his grandmother, mother, and all the women who raised him who made him a man. He had no men in his life growing up.

There is one little wrinkle with that two part song though. On “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” his most famous song, he slams feminists as “hairy armed women’s liberationists.” But all the women who raised him do sound like the very feminists he sneers at, so it’s hard to know how seriously to take “On Coming From a Broken Home.” This and the music mars a great album, which is too bad, he still has all his talent intact at 60, and still has plenty to say.
Andrea Weiss

Pantha Du Prince
Black Noise
Rough Trade

This album is somewhere between ambient tencho and new age music. Prince takes synthesizers, mixes them with acoustic guitars, steel drums on some tracks, marimbas on others, and found sounds such as knocking, ringing, and barking. Noah Lennox of Animal Collective sings on “Stick to My Side” and Tyler Pope of !!! and LCD Soundsystem plays bass on “The Splendour.”

However, for all the ambient noise, the beat is too fast to be much good for meditating, which is what new age music mostly is used for, but not fast enough for danceing. What is left is an album that hums loudly in the background, which is not much fun for chilling out to. But for doing choirs or exercising, for example, it is perfect, and no use for reading, writing or painting. []
Andrea Weiss

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