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A rhythm method

columns Updated: Jul 16, 2011 00:43 IST
Indrajit Hazra
Indrajit Hazra
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Blood pressures
The Kills
Domino Recording/Virgin, Rs 795
Rating: ***1/2

The tribal thump that starts us off on this journey with The Kills' latest album Blood Pressures has the rhythm and surge of arterial bloodflow. Alison Mosshart sings in 'Future starts slow' as if wearing Queen Bess' regal gown while Jamie Hince makes the guitars pulsate with minor note after the lines "I don't mind" pinching each stanza. We have a hard, slow thing going in 'Satellite', the music being pulled like a heavy weight across the flow while Mosshart does a chorus that sounds part-Native American chant and part-rock reggae.

Strangely, 'Heart is a beating drum' starts with a ping-pong organ sound that makes me fear that Ray Manzarek is back to bore us with his syrupy solos. Thankfully, the poncey keyboards recede — but replaced by a Swinging 60s Redux swing. Why Mosshart wants to sound like Shirley Bassey with a White Stripes tribute band playing along is a mystery to me. (It's significantly worse if the singer didn't want to sound like Shirley-ji.)

'Nail in the coffin' has the 80s aura, making it reminscent of Power Station's 'Some like it hot'. Which is when it occurs to me that the Kills, for all their art-rock, has a distinct 80s sound to them, not quite post-punk, but not quite 21st century Bangles either. I quite like the change in gear and sound in 'Wild charms' that follows, with Hince taking the mike and doing a slow dreamy number perfect to be recorded as a demo inside an apartment in the Dakota Building in New York.

The funk in this pie comes in the middle of the album in 'DNA'. A perfect marriage of a growl and a finger-click, this track leaves lipstick stains all over the air as Mosshart sings, "And weeeee/ will not be moved by it," as if she was one of the oracles of Delphi. The stetsons and denims come out in the pulsating 'Baby says', a delightful song that shines through the hint of harmony that comes with the lines, "Baby says she's dying to meet you/ take you off and make your blood hum/ and tremble like/ the fairground lights." I would seriously recommend this track as a great song to play while you have sex.

A dirty song with a dirty riff is 'Damned if she do'. 'You don't own the road' that follows is a rock'n'roll cha-cha-cha track, less of a car song and more of a fiery dancefloor number. Think Olivia Newton John in a Quentin Tarantino flick.

Blood Pressures is full of hardy, tangible music. I would recommend you start in the middle of the album and stop at the end. Like boring foreplay, the first half is almost an excuse to give up on any plans.

zzzz from an insomniac

Destroyed
Moby
EMI, Rs 395
Rating:1/2

Lounge music got a new sofa cushion with the arrival of Richard Melville Hall aka Moby in the early 90s. He played the perfect foil to the gritty electronica of the British mike'n'turntablers such as Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers and Fat Boy Slim with his lush, synth-soaked nostalgic futurism. By 2005, Moby even cranked things up a bit in his seventh album Hotel ('Lift me up' etc). But by the 2009 album Wait For Me, he moved to a melodic mournful sound that was a mix of his old soundscapes and more tangible 'songs'. The bugger seems to have botched things up with his tenth and latest album Destroyed.

The man apparently came up with and recorded the tracks on this album while suffering from insomnia while on tour and jumping from one hotel to another. Yup, it shows. The opening track 'The Broken Places' is full of sounds that fish would make inside an aquarium — and there is reason why no one's much interested in that music. 'Be the one' has the old Kraftwerk trick of a robot voice emoting. But think 'Trans-Europe Express' without the kraut-pleaser. We are drowned by one luscious keyboard chord after another.

'Sevastopol' sounds like the muzak in a sophisticated bordello in Riga — plus dollops of synth chords again!. 'The low hum' — like the album itself — may be the soundscape signifying deep human alienation. But frankly even with the Dido-like voice of Emily Zuzik, Destroyed is excrutiatingly boring. By the time I reach the gospel-lush of 'Lie down in darkness', I wonder whether I should put on that old Vangelis album instead. At least it had some cheesy tunes and not only a tsunami of synth chords.