Total Eclipse of Art

It's remarkable to me how fully realized Beta Band's sound has always been, from their 1997 debut EP until now. (Their early '99 compilation The Three E.P.'sis even better than the new album, and the new one's groovy like in the movies.) It's also remarkable to me how more people haven't managed to make their droniness and repetition at least a little more fun and worth following as Beta Band does. (Not everyone can be a master at it like Giorgio Moroder or Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, but it's worth a try.) Organic and folky even when working with beats and a full-time turntable twiddler, the Betas have cracked the Kraut code: having hipster leanings work hand in hand with idiot hippie charm.

But where Beta Band's new record is a variation on their past (happily pointless) themes, Add N To (X)'s second album is a huge improvement over their last London-based blast of Moog madness. Their first album, On the Wires of Our Nerves, got on my last one. They did come up with some pretty innovative ways to annoy me with analog electronics, though. Avant Hard, I'm happy to say, rocks harder than it avants, and I'm going to wait all night for tickets when they play the Garden. Majestic, loping, driving shit, I don't know— it's really cool, and loud. Powerchords with not a guitar in sight (although live human drummers) and with humor! (Best song titles: "Ann's Eveready Equestrian," "Machine Is Bored With Love.") These guys have made a great rock'n'roll album that could conceivably come from some form of the future. (The new Future World disc by Chicago thrill jockeys Trans Am tries this too, but sounds a little more like Jeff Beck if he had been born underwater and elected president of the Jonzun Crew fan club.)

Add N To (X) have learned to use their past algebraic abrasiveness for the greater good, and have more chance of ruling the world than actual Kraut white-noise fit-throwers Atari Teenage Riot. Galloping hoofbeats, Valkyrie vocals, military snares, vocoders, all united into happy, upbeat melodies: what's not to like? Even the worrywarts and math majors might get up and shake a leg when "Metal Fingers in My Body" hits the airwaves. Soon to be a smash— on Neptune, at least.

Beta Banditos
Michael Spencer Jones
Beta Banditos

skotrok@earthlink.net

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