Moonshake/New Kingdom | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Moonshake/New Kingdom 

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MOONSHAKE/NEW KINGDOM

London's Moonshake has retained the massive groove it lifted from Can (along with its name, the title of a 24-year-old Can tune), but in the foreground the music now bears little resemblance to the group's early work. The first recordings made liberal use of jarring guitar parts, but when coleader Margaret Fiedler left to form Laika, so went the guitars. On Moonshake's last two albums, thick globs of coloristic samples are ladled over the hypnotic bass and drum patterns, and singer Dave Callahan now croons inside his own private cabaret. On the recent Dirty & Divine (C/Z), the band seems well on its way to perfecting this approach: nonrhythmic sampling serves as the meat on the rhythm section's bones, and while Callahan's warble conjures everything from the precious whine of Morrissey to a karaoke Perry Como, both its melodic sophistication and its florid romanticism cut nicely against the toughness. There's nothing florid or romantic about Brooklyn hip-hoppers New Kingdom, whose second album, Paradise Don't Come Cheap (Gee Street), jacks up the wiggy amalgam of hoarse exhortations, brash beats, and untidy samples heard from the duo last time around. Nosaj and Sebastian shout as much as they rap, bellowing flaky notions about a world none of us live in: They declare, "Unicorns were horses / Nowadays when I write / The forces send me voices," and assert that the Muppet "Animal was my favorite drummer." They build a song from Run-D.M.C.'s "Hollis Crew (Krush Groove 2)," then turn around and loop riffs from Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf." New Kingdom thrives on an absurdity utterly anomalous in hip-hop, with the possible exception of Dr. Octagon's kooky cosmology. They've got some crazy-ass hair, too. Run On headlines this terrific bill. Saturday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 276-3600.

PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo of New Kingdom by Peter Morris; Photo of Moonshake by Sanie.

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