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Robin Danar

Altered States

(Shanachie; US: 18 Mar 2008; UK: Available as import)

Robin Danar is an impresario, not a musician. His previous work as a producer/engineer at legendary punk club CBGBs, and more recently at influential California radio station KCRW, has put him at the center of important cutting edge musical scenes. Danar’s latest project makes him a midwife of sorts, as he gathered a varied group of musicians and had them do new versions of notable songs that one would normally consider outside their realm. The results vary, but there are many highlights. They include singer songwriter Pete Yorn with Mexican rockers Kinky on Bill Withers classic soul tune “Use Me”, Paul Buchanan from the ambient jazz band “The Blue Nile” doing The Pretenders “Message of Love” and alternative artist Rachael Yamagata singing the Rolling Stones psychedelic space ode “2,000 Lights Year From Home”. While the musicians who did the original tunes are generally better known than the new interpreters (i.e. UK blues band Minibar covers Morrisey, California singer Jim Bianco sings the Talking Heads), all of the artists acquit themselves well. The disc is billed as a soundtrack to a movie never made. Ken Russell once directed a movie called Altered States and this album could work as the strange sounds that the central character heard will tripping in his sensory deprivation tank.

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Steven Horowitz has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Iowa, where he continues to teach a three-credit online course on "Rock and Roll in America". He has written for many different popular and academic publications including American Music, Paste and the Icon. Horowitz is a firm believer in Paul Goodman's neofunctional perspective on culture and that Sam Cooke was right, a change is gonna come.


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