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Jad And Nao: Half Monster

Jad And Nao: Half Monster

Label:Misc. Music
Release Date:2008

By Bret McCabe | Posted 3/5/2008

A few gulped swallows of air strafe a glitchy loop of metal clatter and ramshackle electronics. Drums stumble in the background like a toddler taking her first steps. Those air gulps quickly become vocal smears that could be female, could be male, or could be howler monkey. And 53 seconds later it's all over before you get any sense of what's going on--and that's it. God Is My Co-Pilot's super-wonderful Sharon Topper and Craig Flanagin show up for "1/3 American"--the title of those opaque 53 seconds--on a new album for the first time in years, and what does this guest appearance produce? Less than a minute of arrhythmic clamor that not only doesn't even tease but barely even frustrates. Thank you, Jad Fair.

Fair's music is about defying expectations. And here the co-founder of Half Japanese--the finest export ever from Uniontown, Md.--once again teams up with Naofumi Ishimaru, the Japanese artist behind the sublime performance outfit Yximalloo, for yet another distillation of completely reorganized rock, gloriously discombobulated pop, noisily melodic spoken-word sound poetry, harnessed-wreckage doohickeys, and other mirthful treats that slip through the fingers of nouns and adjectives. Half Monster--Fair and Ishimaru's third release and Fair's, like, 4 billionth overall--is what Fair fans have come to adore about his projects. Songs built out of one/two gratuitously simple ideas--roiling drums chasing twangy guitars, a jazz big-band drum solo dancing with bird-call whistles--are played with a skipping-class glee and given Amy Hempel-meets-Roald Dahl ingenious titles, such as "Snake Had Legs" and "Food--Pro and Con," respectively. These lyrics' subject matter feels practically survival-instinct impulsive, and their transformation into song connects to that primal inner brain that innately understands the maxim: happy equals, well, happy.

As always, the album is a Fair extended-family affair. Longtime Half Jap members Mark Jickling (guitar) and Gilles Rieder (drums) provide some pound and shimmy, and frequent Fair collaborator and the True Vine Record Shop raconteur Jason Willett mixed the majority of what's here. And since these effervescent brain bombs rarely break the two-minute mark, Half Monster packs 45 tracks onto one CD. If the woodwind belches and groans of "Big, Not Teeny" aren't doing it for you, just wait a minute.

E-mail Bret McCabe

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