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Album Reviews

Reviews of albums by Stevie Jackson, KonKoma and Mike Patton and Ictus Ensemble

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Stevie Jackson
(I Can't Get No) Stevie Jackson
★★ (out of 5 stars)

Writing is rewriting, and for a reason: The process inevitably changes the writer, so without a wax buffer or two, a work of self-discovery can just sound schizophrenic. Belle & Sebastian guitarist Stevie Jackson should have given his half-decade-in-the-making debut a good polish. As it stands, this effort has multiple, progressively uninteresting personalities: the doo-wopping romantic ("Dead Man's Fall"); the go-go house band ("Try Me"); the, uh, mariachi band at a kindergartner's birthday party? ("Kurosawa"). And while the offerings are perfectly hummable, Jackson's attempts at Lennon-lite absurdist wordplay ("Where did Victor Hugo?" he wonders) undercut his carefree rhythms every time. – Justin Strout

★★★ (out of 5 stars)

The driving, horn-powered Afro-funk of KonKoma's debut album sounds like another rescued gem from Ghana's '70s musical heyday. Thing is, it was just recorded last year ... in England. However, this isn't a Mandingo-esque situation of Anglo musicians doing a little ethno-dabbling; KonKoma is built around the twin towers of Alfred Bannerman and Emmanual Rentzos, Ghanaian musicians who have worked with everyone from Peter Green to Osibisa. The 12 tracks have a surprisingly modern approach, but are also rich with vintage Ghanaian funk. – Jason Ferguson

Mike Patton & Ictus Ensemble
Laborintus II
★★★★ (out of 5 stars)

Full of shimmying, operatic birdsong, isicathamiya, woodblocks, Italian incantation or possibly otherworldly, cave-dwelling creatures whose cries approximate those sounds (honestly, who knows with this album), Laborintus II pairs eclectic composer Mike Patton with Belgian orchestra Ictus to pay homage to Luciano Berio's Edoardo Sanguineti-inspired 1965 composition of the same name. Unfolding in three acts, each more insane than the previous, it's a dense, fractured and thrilling outing that's still the worst dinner-party soundtrack since Metal Machine Music. – JS

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