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Stampede – Critters Buggin

Ropeadope Records

David Byrne was never one for facts, but I can't side with the man simply because he's awesome. I like facts; they influenced my decision to check out the new Critters Buggin disc, and I'm a better person for doing so.

Okay, that's pushing it. But the new Critters is so good it's disgusting, and facts made me grab it. Fact: anything that Ropeadope puts out is golden. Fact: anything that Skerik does is cool. Fact: the Duo Buggin' boat "cruise" was nastier than nasty. Conclusion: I had to make the new Critters record mine. Result: I was far from disappointed.

I was damn impressed, as it were. Stampede is an elegant, spaced-out journey through uncharted sonic waters full of sinister baritone sax, carefully placed vibes (the instrument, not what you give off), tribal drumming and trippy rhodes piano (courtesy of Skerik!).

And string arrangements. Master arranger Eyvind Kang (he's worked with everyone from John Zorn to Mr. Bungle) laces three tracks here and they're some of the best tunes on the record. "Panang," in particular, is really beautiful; the soaring string work here brings out an Eastern vibe (what you give off, not the instrument) that crops up periodically throughout the record ("Open the Door of Peace" sounds distinctly Arabic).

"Persephone Under Mars," also suffering from Kang's gorgeous arrangements, is an uplifting drum-n-bass opus that builds to death-defying heights (I imagine the tune as the soundtrack to some great escape scene from a science-fiction movie).

"Cloudburst," deserves its own chapter in a book detailing the mechanics of tension and release; Mike Dillon's vibes and a tasteful amount of atmospheric synth-ery combine here for some real fireworks; "Cloudburst," like Stampede, gets pretty intense.

Which is just how I like my music. And, certainly, music that is often on-edge is not for everyone. But this record is really some stuff. Do check it out.

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