Music News

Arto Lindsay

Lindsay's a guy with an underground rep thanks to his work with the intellectual-noise act DNA and brainiacs such as Brian Eno and John Zorn. But the guitarist/vocalist is also an aficionado of sounds from Brazil, where he grew up circa the height of the Tropicália movement. Prize, licensed to Ani DiFranco's Righteous Babe imprint, finds Lindsay merging these areas of interest to produce an exotic hybrid whose surface delicacy masks an adventurous edge.

"Pode Ficar/You Can Keep It" is emblematic of Lindsay's approach. He croons the tune's dada-like lyrics in Portuguese, layering his homely but workable voice over a musical bed that initially seems as soft and inviting as a feather mattress. Listen a bit more closely, though, and occasionally dissonant tones can be heard in the background, buzzing like insects crawling around the seemingly pristine borders of paradise. "Prefeelings" takes things a step further: On it, Lindsay's gentle warbling (in English this time) is juxtaposed with the bark of Beans, a member of the Anti-Pop Consortium, in much the same way that industrial racket rubs against Lindsay's light-fingered guitar, a mysterious sax line and south-of-the-border rhythms. Then there's "Ex-Preguica/Ex-Laziness," whose lovely melody curdles in the presence of a mournful string section.

For Lindsay, musical boundaries are meant to be crossed, which means that anything can happen at any moment, be it the infusion of dub that marks "Unsure" or the sections in the generally relaxed "Resemblances" ("Stay calm/Keep calm," Lindsay keeps repeating) when the instruments mass in a sonic wave that threatens to engulf everything around them. The mutability of the compositions demands active listening, and folks who wish ambitious artists would quit screwing around and just sing the damn song will no doubt be frustrated by Prize. But those who feel that the most boring way to travel from one point to another is via a straight line should enjoy taking the long way home.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts