Recordings

Lori Carson
Where It Goes
(Restless)

Lori Carson has spent the past several years as the leading chanteuse in the Golden Palominos, unleashing her seductive vocal stylings in that band's mutated sonic realm of ambient/funk/dance. So the music on her solo Where it Goes comes as quite a surprise, albeit a pleasant one. On these 10 songs, Carson affects an understated singer/songwriter pose, somewhat reminiscent of Cindy Lee Berryhill and early period Michelle Shocked. Carson's voice possesses a light, airy quality, wavering on selected notes, yet still managing a degree of strength and forcefulness. Accompanied largely by piano, Carson sings about dreams, faith, love, and life. Her music is instilled with a fleeting romantic quality, a delicate, warm simplicity that was commonplace years ago but has since become rare. "Down Here" sets the tone, Carson's powerful wisp of a voice dominating a sparse musical background as she sings about "real love" and "peace of mind." The rest of the release, for the most part, follows suit. But "You Won't Fall" ups the ante with full, rich production, and "Anyday" has Carson picking up the guitar to deliver a bittersweet bite of ambient folk. Kudos to producer (and Golden Palomino head honcho) Anton Fier for a relaxed production and subtle ambient texturing that allows Carson to shine. Goes is a beautiful backdrop for late-night philosophical pondering and Sunday morning sunrises.

-- spence d.
Lori Carson opens for Chris Whitley Fri, July 21, at the Bottom of the Hill in S.F.; call 626-4455.

Hardkiss
Delusions of Grandeur
(Hardkiss)

The "brothers" Hardkiss have already earned their due respect in the Bay Area by hosting several extraordinary dance/music gatherings, running their own groundbreaking independent label, and delivering a line of seamless techno-tinted compositions and remixes via the 12-inch or underground mix-tape. Now comes the proper digital debut, Delusions of Grandeur, a two-disc collection showcasing the finest, all-samples-cleared cuts from the Hardkiss stable. Included in the pack are dizzying excursions from Rabbit in the Moon, the Drum Club, and a handful of Hardkiss pseudonyms.

Delusions of Grandeur is frightening in its scope, combining all the excitement and vision most hastily contrived techno compilations plainly lack. Hardkiss may have been born out of the world of strobing lights, gyrating booties, and throbbing speakers, but the brothers' sights are set far above the weekender pack. Grandeur is a versatile work, as capable of causing serious uproar on the dance floor as it is sending a listener into orbit through a pair of headphones.

Rabbit in the Moon's two contributions (alternate mixes of "Out of Body Experience") are blissfully fragmented, tying together easy piano melodies, ethereal soundbites, and grand electronic sweeps. God Within's (aka Scott Hardkiss) cuts are epic, to say the least. Layered with spiraling grooves, relentless beats, and awe-inspiring breaks, "Raincry," "Daylight," and "The Phoenix" are truly monumental. Disc 2 is launched by a dreamy threesome courtesy of Hawke (aka Gavin Hardkiss); "3 Nudes in a Purple Garden," "Pacific Coast Highway No. 1," and "3 Nudes (Having Sax on Acid)" lean more toward the ambient side of the spectrum, driven by riveting beats and bewildering soundscapes. But the mellower pace doesn't undermine the music's vitality. Similarly, Little Wing (aka Robbie Hardkiss) closes the set with three cuts that find their poison in melody and mood rather than volume. Gate-crashing styles and catapulting electronic music into the stratosphere, Grandeur is crucial listening. (Hardkiss, 2215-R Market, Suite 836, San Francisco, CA 94114)

-- Aidin Vaziri

Snowmen
Soundproof
(Normal Records)

Just across the Mississippi from New Orleans, in a sleepy outpost called Algiers, is Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World, a warehouse where artists work year-round on parade floats. Out back, near the river's edge, lies a creeping scrap heap of retired float sections, dominated by oversize gator parts and the remains of a Statue of Liberty replica -- her head, one arm. When I lived in N'Orleans, I took a picture of that eerie scene, which is now hanging on my living room wall. As I unfolded the artwork to Soundproof, the Snowmen's new import CD, I was amazed to see -- the same photo! Well, not quite. This one's in color.

A facile literary parallel is aching to be drawn, but that don't get it in describing the release. One-time Barbara Manning cohort Cole Marquis has his newest Bay Area group liberally borrowing ideas, yes, but they're no carbon copies. Actually recorded in late 1993, Soundproof melds the best of radio-friendly slash-and-burn with a washing undercurrent of psychedelia and simple, hypnotically repetitive guitar figures. "Magic 8-Ball" and "Soundtrack for Drunken Taxis" are trancelike, "V-8 Vega" has the adrenaline of a hairpin turn, and "Girl Don't Tell Me" is an early Brian Wilson number reconstituted as scuzz-pop. Marquis' plain-spoken vocals are a welcome departure from the throbbing emotion of so many guitar-band frontmen, while the group's tempo and texture changes make Soundproof a thoroughly engrossing listen. Final note: Check the automobile imagery (all highly appropriate, I might add) of the Volta single "Rent-a-Car Baby," "Backseat Driver," "Drive Blind," etc. (Normal Records, Bonner Talweg 276, 53129, Bonn, Germany)

-- James Sullivan
The Snowmen open for Clarke Nova Sun, July 23, at the Bottom of the Hill; call 626-4455.

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