Jad Fair and Kramer

The Sound of Music (an unfinished symphony in twelve parts)

Shimmy-Disc

review by Lang Thompson


Eleven years after this dynamic duo collaborated on the minor classic Roll Out the Barrels, they've returned to present us another batch of endearingly quirky songs.  The mix of Jad's quasi-surreal naivete (familiar from a stack of Half Japanese albums) and Kramer's idiosyncratic pop leanings is almost a natural one, bringing out the better aspects of each musician.  Still, in this case the songs have a somewhat provisional feel, perhaps due to the nature of the partnership.  Kramer recorded the music which Jad later supplied with lyrics, apparently with neither of them sitting down together and working through the songs.  Though you might have guessed this separation from the resulting songs, they're also well integrated enough that there may have been more work than the liner notes suggest.  In any case, the opening track could be Bizarro World Top 40 with its percolating synthetic drum beat, fuzz guitar and thick synth line graced by Jad's almost-indecipherable musings on pretty eyes.  "Elenor" could almost be production-music "rock" before sparked by Jad's yelps and a bit of polite guitar.  The duo runs further afield on the spooky, quasi-Arabic "The Faceless Man" (which sounds like the soundtrack to the old computer game "Magic Carpet"). The Sound of Music may be pop music as it should be: not cynical and manipulative, but pleasing, honest and thoroughly individual.



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