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Numbers celebrates a remix Death, and Deerhoof bites into a confounding Apple

Wednesday, Apr 2 2003
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San Francisco's Numbers seems like a pretty unlikely candidate for a remix album. The trio -- drummer and main vocalist Indra Dunis, guitarist Dave Broekema, and keyboardist Eric Landmark -- plays the kind of raw, stop-and-start noise-rock that's anathema to a dance club. Nevertheless, the group's tunes have a nervous energy and disco-y beat that often compel its listeners to spaz out during concerts, making the new Numbers Death (a remixing of the band's 2002 debut, Numbers Life) less of a stretch than you might think.

Beyond tweaking the bass and adding some thumping beats -- like Fatboy Slim might do -- the artists working on Numbers Death recorded additional parts, in some cases inserting new vocals. Local laptop rapper Gold Chains turned the lo-fi "Prison Life" into the kind of bouncy punk-funk number at which PiL once excelled; S.F. ambient-technoist Kit Clayton reimagined "Information" as a scuzzy industrial-pop tune, complete with guest Sue Costabile yelping, "I don't want your information!" Perhaps the most complete transformation is by Austrian producer GD Deluxxe: Via synth swirls and vocal chants, he refashioned "Prison Life" (several songs get the multiple treatment) into the sort of new wave-y pop that used to rule Live 105.

For this weekend's show, Numbers will most likely play its songs in their original, punky fashion, but there's no telling what its cohorts in Deerhoof will do. The always-unpredictable quartet has just released its fourth LP, Apple O', and the disc is as confounding as its punctuated title. While it includes the usual heartfelt odes to endangered trees ("Apple Bomb"), Chinese furballs ("Panda Panda Panda"), and natural beauties ("Flower"), the album also applies Satomi Matsuzaki's childlike chirp to vaguely political lyrics ("Stop the man at the top/ Stop the flag at the top" from "Sealed With a Kiss") and to sweet romance ("Dinner for Two"). And although Greg Saunier's drum patterns still seem as haphazard as a drunk in a blizzard, Chris Cohen and John Dieterich have taken a more direct approach to their guitar parts, now embracing the occasional melody. There's even some acoustic guitar on the finale, "Blue Cash," which suggests, "Play on your harp string and soar/ Play on your heart string, it's sore."

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Dan Strachota

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