By Emma Silvers
By Gary Moskowitz
By Alee Karim
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
By Derek Opperman
By Emma Silvers
By Alee Karim
Longtime fans will appreciate the revision of the '70s classic "Butterfly," which starts off just as rich and ominous as the original, flowing like liquid gold until Hancock kicks some hip-hop flava toward the middle of the song. The transition to urban feel is smooth, before finishing full circle with Herbert Law's airy flute fluttering in the background. The hip-hop influence is strongest on "The Melody," which features a DJ and a rapper. With the exception of Quincy Jones, no other artist has successfully married hip hop and jazz; Hancock did it first, and continues to do it best.
-- Gwendlynn Meno
It's probably safe to venture a few guesses about the collective nature of this Duluth trio. For one thing, founding members Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker and new bassist Zak Sally are likely baseball fans, and they don't mind interminable time lapses between pitches. They're at ease sitting around silently in each other's company, maybe doing crossword puzzles. Someone owns a hammock. One or more suffer from migraines.
If the pleasure of a lot of rock is its adrenalized confrontations with our thresholds of pain, Low's superdeliberate tempos are an inversion of that principle -- they're excruciating in their very motionlessness. Though the band has been likened to Galaxie 500 (fellow clients of slapdash producer Kramer), Low's crawling approach makes Dean Wareham's feathery first group sound like a hard-charging Brahma bull. Long Division has roots in Dos, Mike Watt's collaboration with Kira, in the Twin Peaks scores, and in Manhattan art-plodders Codeine. But Low's music is less plaintive than Dos, less cabaret than Julee Cruise, and less psychotic than Codeine (though they do offer creepy lines like, "She's a sinker/ I should have taught her how to swim").
In fact, Low are less everything than just about everybody: This is archminimalism. The band credits its home base near the Great Lakes with inspiring the music's cold, gray backdrop. In Jim Jarmusch's Stranger Than Paradise, an immigrant girl takes two New Yorkers to visit the shores of Lake Erie. Though a thick snow cloud has obliterated the view, one of the guys murmurs numbly, "It's beautiful."
-- James Sullivan
Low plays Sun, July 9, at the Bottom of the Hill in S.F.; call 621-4455.
The Soul of Black Peru
Behind the joyful sounds of Afro-Peruvian music is a long trail of tears. West African slaves were brought to Peru, as they were to other South American countries, but in Peru the Spanish implemented divide-and-conquer tactics, avoiding the importation of large numbers from any one ethnic group in fear that a common language could foster resistance to bondage as it did in Cuba. Instead, the slave population was made up of smaller groups from diverse backgrounds. The ancestors of these people were slowly integrated into their new country, but memories of Africa dominate their music-making to this day. Black Peruvians combined Spanish, African, and indigenous elements and invented unique percussion instruments, including the cajon, a wooden box held between the legs, and the quijada de burro, a burro's jawbone with loosened teeth that sounds like a tenor guiro.
A well-kept "secret" for centuries, Afro-Peruvian music has finally made it to the clubs of Lima, and now The Soul of Black Peru, a compilation culled by David Byrne and Yale Evelev, should awaken interest in the Northern Hemisphere. "Maria Lando," the kickoff track, has the potential to become an international classic. Its minor-key melody, driven by a tinkling flamenco-ish guitar line, gentle percussion, and the plaintive singing of Susana Baca, generates a beautifully melancholy mood that's both as alien and familiar as a suddenly remembered dream.
Afro-Peruvian rhythms resemble the Andean music most Anglos are familiar with, but the African elements predominate to give things a unique twist. Besides "Maria Lando," which is reprised by Byrne near the close of the disc, the album overflows with impressive music-making. "Yo No Soy Jaqui," an energetic lando with a message of racial pride by Manuel Donayre, sounds like a cha-cha; Cecilia Barraza mixes familiar Peruvian mountain rhythms into "Canterurias" and comes up with something like an African waltz; Peru Negro, the group credited with revitalizing Afro-Peruvian music in the '50s, brings a fierce rhythmic drive to "Son de Los Diablos" and "Lando." Both haunting and danceable, this is the music of an indomitable spirit.
-- j. poet