GMG - Las Vegas Weekly

2017-01-12 - Las Vegas Weekly

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Ad l a s v e g a s w e e k ly 063 0 1 . 1 2 . 1 7 63 WEEKLY | 01.12.17 N O I s e Everything that makes Bonobo great can be heard in the five and a half minutes of its latest release's title track. The song opens with a clinical electronic throb that's quickly layered over with a bed of tuneful sound— piano, synthesizer washes, wordless vocals, jazzy cymbals and pulsing bass. At the two-minute mark, "Migration" resolves into a warm, shimmering in- strumental you wouldn't have expected from that chilly intro. That's what Bonobo's Simon Green does—create tensions and the remedy for those tensions, sometimes within the same musical phrase. Migration is rife with such mo- ments. The insistent beat of "Outlier" partially vanishes in the song's escalat- ing instrumentation, like momentarily losing sight of a friend at a party. "Bam- bro Koya Ganda," featuring Moroc- can band Innov Gnawa, grows into a full-volume house stomp from what sounds like a few musicians rehearsing in a studio hallway. It's not all twists and turns, however; Bonobo's gift for lush, scenic composition shines in tracks like "Second Sun," whose swooning, romantic strings are precisely what you need at the exact instant you need them. –Geoff Carter As many of us braced for the first anniversary of David Bowie's death, his team delivered a surprise nugget the day before his birthday. The No Plan EP is less a fresh release and more a curation of recent material closing the chapter that includes 2016's rapturously received Blackstar and the 2015 Broadway musical, Lazarus—for which these four songs were recorded, the last of the sessions with the NYC- based Donny McCaslin Quartet—and thus Bowie's career. "Lazarus" (also on Blackstar) is a dramatic and ideal opener, McCaslin's piercing, three-note saxophone melody joined by a weary, mortality-pondering Bowie ("Look up here, I'm in heaven," "Oh I'll be free/Just like that blue- bird"). He soars during the otherwise downcast "No Plan." Rocker "Killing a Little Time" starts jarringly with com- plex time signatures and long, minor chord arpeggios, as Bowie continues the expiration process ("I lay in bed/ The monster fed, the body bled"). But the uptempo-ish closer "When I Met You" ends what could be Bowie's final non-compilation release—and its mo- rose themes—with a merciful degree of uplift, managing to make it feel like he's still with us. –Mike Prevatt The Flaming Lips haven't been interested in making easy-to- digest music for more than a decade. That's not necessarily bad—2006's At War With the Mystics, for example, balanced kaleidoscopic psych-pop with experimental tendencies—though the mind-set has led to several self-indul- gent missteps. Thankfully, the music on Oczy Mlody sounds more focused than other recent Lips releases. Tranquil resignation reigns, in place of the creeping dread of 2013's The Terror, with harsh textures (mostly) eschewed for languid synth-pop, an am- bient glaze and gentle elements like pil- lowy electronic percolations ("Almost Home"), heavenly harmonies (standout "Sunrise [Eyes of the Young]") and mournful orchestration ("Galaxy I Sink"). The album is also notable for its judicious use of forceful rhythms: "Nigdy Nie (Never No)" begins with handclaps and disco-pop grooves, while "Do Glowy" boasts a church bell-like ostinato and 8-bit keyboard squiggles. Oczy Mlody isn't without its dud moments—"We a Famly," a castoff from the Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz ses- sions, is saccharine and inside-jokey— but overall, the album feels grounded in reality. –Annie Zaleski Combining Killer Mike's politi- cal lyrics, delivered by Southern drawl, and El-P's unsettling, futuristic boom-bap backdrops, Run the Jewels has been a critically and commercially successful duo since its 2013 origins, thrilling a zealous fanbase with the surprise December 24 digital release of its third self-titled album. That record, out physically this week, finds the two men once again expertly meshing their styles; the raps are delivered almost ex- clusively with Mike's trademark bounce, with El's accompanying beats heavier and more experimental than ever. Throwback singles "Talk to Me" and "Legend Has It" will surely please long- time followers, but RTJ3's real meat can be found in its deeper cuts. The Danny Brown-featured "Hey Kids" and near- industrial "Call Ticketron" recall Trent Reznor's darker productions, minus the hard guitars. "Thieves! (Screamed the Ghost)" goes full Walking Dead, as the Jewels jump to the Trump presidency's worst possible outcome. And the nasty, Gangsta Boo-driven "Panther Like a Pan- ther" is a requisite club banger one might hear at a Mad Decent party. It's another worthwhile LP for Run the Jewels, who have found their fast lane and stayed in it. –Mike Pizzo MIgratION NO PlaN Oczy MlOdy ruN the jewels 3 BonoBo aaaac aaaac aaabc aaabc DaviD BoWiE ThE FLaming Lips run ThE jEWELs Sound Judgment E R H roCK ELECTroniC hip-hop E R R H

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