LCD Soundsystem, M.I.A. | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

LCD Soundsystem, M.I.A. 

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"Losing My Edge," the 2002 debut single from New York's LCD SOUNDSYSTEM, was a hilarious satire of hipsters who endlessly claim they were around for seminal moments in music history: "I was there at the first Can show in Cologne ... I was there in the Paradise Garage DJ booth with Larry Levan." But as the double-CD release LCD Soundsystem (DFA/Capitol) shows, the song also provided a list of the ingredients that inform maestro James Murphy's auteurlike work. He's trawled through three decades of music history: "Movement" does New Order better than New Order; "Disco Infiltrator" meticulously re-creates Afropop-era Talking Heads; "Daft Punk Is Playing at My House" swipes its opening riff from "Super Freak"; and "Great Release" echoes Brian Eno's early pop phase. Murphy is an incredibly savvy craftsman, however--he knows just what to do with all the elements he borrows--and he delivers lyrics stuffed with pop-culture references in a voice that sounds like Mark E. Smith with a bad head cold. The album isn't very coherent--the second disc just compiles previously released singles--and it's hard to imagine that Murphy's approach has much staying power. But for the time being it's the most irresistible display of 80s underground obsessiveness out there.

London rapper M.I.A. is surrounded by massive hype, thanks to her superb debut album, Arular (XL). Melting down grime, dancehall, hip-hop, and electro, it's a beautifully realized, thoroughly contemporary composite that bristles with her swaggering personality and never sounds like a mechanical pastiche of genres. The daughter of a former opposition leader in Sri Lanka, Maya Arulpragasam was born in London but grew up in her father's homeland and in India before she returned to England when she was 11. After dabbling in art and video projects, she started playing music by tooling around with a Roland MC-505; last year the British label Showbiz Records pressed 500 copies of her first single, "Galang," which quickly became an underground success. Combining snatches of Jamaican patois with hip-hop lingo, M.I.A. delivers old-school couplets that alternate between real-world wisdom ("Need a visa? / Get with a geezer") and utter nonsense ("Boys say wha', gwan / Girls say wha', what / Slam galang galang galang"). Both sound great. She'll be joined by Philadelphia DJ and mashup wizard Diplo, her collaborator on last year's killer mix tape Piracy Funds Terrorism Volume 1 (Hollertronix).

LCD Soundsystem headlines; M.I.A. opens. Diplo also spins at 10 PM at a 21-and-over afterparty at Smart Bar, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-4140, $10. Thu 5/19, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $21, 18+.


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