On Friday, February 5, NNA Tapes will release Secret Meeting, the first collaboration between saxophonist Travis Laplante and trumpeter Peter Evans. And as far as collaborations go, it is a pure one. Both are playing from the hip, running back and forth between peaceful pedal tones and lightening-fast skronk. Stylistically falling somewhere between Laplante’s avant-garde super group Little Women and his breathy side-project Battle Trance, Secret Meeting is a sprawling album celebrating “an umbilical cord-like connection” between the two musicians.
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A few years ago I wrote an essay about nudity and near nudity in the design of various video game characters, both male and female, and what that signified about those characters’ vulnerabilities and strengths. I briefly touched on the very minimal clothing (essentially, a loin cloth) of the protagonist of the God of War series, saying that Kratos’s “near nudity makes him less than vulnerable. His physique communicates power and masculinity. The appearance of a desirable masculine trait, perfect musculature, makes him clearly stronger [than he would seem if he were clothed], not weaker” (“Boys Get Naked Better Than Girls”, PopMatters, 23 June 2011).
Dustin Ragucos: If you’ve ever decided not to listen to non-western music because something like Jerusalem In My Heart’s If He Dies, If If If If If felt boring, then good news: “Assossamagh” is a steady road-tripper’s dream. Guitars have a serious strut, and Imarhar follows the beat of his own metre. [7/10]
Steve Horowitz: Come fly with me on soft wings, what a lovely invitation to chill. The music repeats itself repeats itself as a way of making the vibe relaxing. The guitar, in particular, serves as a tour guide of the exotic calm places. The video offers us a view from the sky with no danger of falling or vertigo. [7/10]
Timothy Gabriele: It was fitting that Karl Hyde’s last album was with Brian Eno because I always thought Underworld’s lyrics had an Eno-esque quality. On classic Underworld tunes like “Born Slippy” or “King of Snakes”, the words were more timbric and tonal than relatable, something Eno definitely strived for on his first three solo records. This is still the case with Underworld, but I think the band is struggling a bit now to decide who they are outside of the club/trance setting where that freewheeling Dadaist ping-pong poetry matches the most acutely. This new one”I Exhale” is slightly pub-ish, which would be an unusual landing point on the trajectory of a band that started as a new wave group (Freuer) who renamed themselves after a horror film they scored and eventually became one of the most recognizable names in ‘90s rave culture who then circled back into some “serious” soundtrack work for Danny Boyle films. And now onto electro-charged pub rock? Even for a band that doesn’t sit still much, it’s an awkward look for them. [4/10]