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Thursday, July 24, 2008

GIRLIE MAN

Posted on Thu, Jul 24, 2008 at 4:00 AM

In Flesh Tones
Label: Absolutely Kosher
Length: LP
Rated: NONE
Media: CD
Format: Album
WorkNameSort: In Flesh Tones

Jordon Hossack’s singing voice is an androgynous marvel: breathy, fragile and urgent all at once. Yeah, yeah: Dude chirps like a lady, but that’s nothing new. From Rod Stewart to Prince, Fine Young Cannibals to Billy Corgan, Antony to Jeff Hanson, the pop music landscape is saturated with effeminate male vocal stylists. Hossack represents a fine continuation of this heritage, and his feathery timbres fit snugly into the seamless genre-clash of Canadian outfit Azeda Booth.

In Flesh Tones would be a lovely, adventurous statement of purpose even if it were simply instrumental. Drone meets new wave; New Age ambience waltzes with post-rock; glitch high-fives electronica. Consider “In Red,” for example: elastic New Order bass lines slap at anemic keyboard scales as xylophones ping beguilingly and a brass section bleats. “Lobster Quadrille” is situated atop what sounds like a rough sketch of an Aphex Twin drum pattern. It’s a clattering, intricately arrhythmic beat snake that seems to be chasing its own tail into infinity against a polyphonic cavalcade of horns.

Three minutes in, “Lobster” neatly somersaults into a more mannered, post-Tortoise composition. “Well” starts out in dreamy, druggy Atlas Sound mode, but before long, the reverie is interrupted by scratchy kick-drums and spritzing IDM noise.

Let’s not forget singer Hossack, who acts as a sonorous tour guide through Azeda Booth’s multitude of moods. He coos in consolation as the iridescent gallop “Ran” grows in intensity. He adroitly grounds catchy, should-be singles “First Little Britches” and “Big Fists” in the larger pop realm of dramatic runs and feints. In short, Hossack’s contributions elevate the outing from confused imitation to something happily unclassifiable.

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