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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Can you stand Talibam!?

Posted By on 04.24.12 at 09:13 AM

Talibam!
  • Talibam!
Drummer Kevin Shea has a long history as an irritant, musically speaking—he's a provocateur or a source of chaos at least as often as he's a timekeeper. In the late 90s—in the band Storm and Stress, with future Battles guitarist Ian Williams—he played his drums as if he were falling down a long flight of stairs, backward. And since moving to New York at the turn of the century he's carried on inserting musical splinters beneath the fingernails of unwary listeners.

In People, his project with guitarist Mary Halvorson, he seemed intent on contradicting every phrase she played with his drums and undermining every melody she sang with his vocals, and in the quartet Mostly Other People Do the Killing he's surrounded by pranksters who have their way with classic postbop, flitting from peerless homage to deconstructionist mayhem. He also played behind B.J. Rubin, who has as much business singing in public as I do piloting the space shuttle, actively encouraging him to pursue a horrific standards project called Puttin' on the Ritz. I know from the various albums Shea has made with trumpeter Peter Evans that he can really play, though. And he's in town this week to take part in a series of MCA performances by choreographer Karole Armitage (Thu 4/26 through Sat 4/28), which is a relatively no-nonsense gig for him.

Shea is a member of Talibam!, a long-running duo with keyboardist Matt Mottel, and they're joined at the MCA by Chicago guitarists Michael Vallera and Shelly Steffens (A Tundra) and Brooklyn guitarist Steve Gunn (who just played the Hideout on Sunday) for the Armitage piece Drastic-Classicism (1981/2009), which features a score by Rhys Chatham. Talibam! will also play the David Linton score for The Watteau Duets (1985/2009).

But before they take part in those performances, Talibam! will play their own stuff at a Tuesday-night show at the Burlington Bar. The duo's forthcoming single "Step Into the Marina" is their first stab at rap, and it seems calculated to annoy—as far as I'm concerned, it succeeds (you can watch the video below and see how tolerant you are). I prefer the spazzy, dancy, noisy strain of art-rock on the duo's most recent full-length album, 2009's Boogie in the Breeze Blocks (ESP-Disk)—but even that sometimes gets on my nerves, which is exactly the point. I think.

Talibam!, "Step Into the Marina"

Today's playlist:

Taylor Haskins, American Dream (Sunnyside)
Lawrence English, Kiri No Oto (Touch)
Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou, The First Album (Analog Africa)
Otis Williams & His Charms, It's a Treat: The King/De Luxe Recordings 1959-63 (Ace)
Various artists, London Is the Place for Me: Trinidadian Calypso in London, 1950-1956 (Honest Jon's)

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