Culture To Go

           While the complete text of two McLuhan books is in here, the ultimate impact is verbal, provided by verbatim transcriptions (often with the original speech) that are anti-linear, nearly rambling, and anecdotal. Slumped on a sofa, McLuhan, in an old Canadian TV interview, says of television that "it is the vestibule to LSD." Now what can you say to that but "eh?", "wow, man," or "what was that man thinking?" He was an imp, a provocateur. Numerous inheritors praise him, including Wired publisher Louis Rossetto, major scowler Neil Postman, and Camille Paglia, who of course manages to turn the discussion around to herself on every other of the 43 successive screens of her "interview." I suppose McLuhan would love the way she seizes this medium and runs straight ahead with it, right past the goalpost--if there was one to begin with. Play with this disk happily, but for a more anchored perspective, check out Mark Dery's Escape Velocity website at the Well (, too. (Phil Anderson)

Church of Euthanasia

           Radical religions have met with distaste all the way back to Jesus. Now, taking on those Christian ideologies that have permeated much of Western culture for the last couple of millennia, comes The Church of Euthanasia and its motto: "Save the Planet--Kill Yourself." Offering more than your standard Dr. Kevorkian line of thought, the Church comes out in favor of not just suicide, but also abortion, cannibalism, and sodomy. Lobbying for human carcasses to get sent to McDonald's (recycling, you know) and claiming sodomy as the answer to population overgrowth, the Church also offers a Suicide Assistance Hotline (featuring instructions on "going out like a celebrity" and the "snuff du jour"); and applauds The Rights of the Terminally Ill Bill from the Northern Territory of Australia (the first place to legalize euthanasia). Alongside links to The Sick Page (which contains articles on the eating of fetuses in China, as well as photos both naughty and disgusting), there's even some useful information, including a population index, an article about contraception, and a list of nationwide medical providers. If Catholic guilt doesn't get to you, a peek into this Church's radical ideology is, to say the least, eye-opening. (Vickie Gilmer)


Pierre Dorge & New Jungle Orchestra

Music From The Danish Jungle


           Like most American jazz fans, I'm chauvinistic about my country's greatest native art form, particularly when it comes to European interlopers, who often lack the improvisational spark and multicultural collisions that regularly transform jazz into the Sound of Surprise. But every two or three years over the past decade, Dorge and his semi-big band have emerged with a scintillating rebuttal to such narrow-mindedness, and Danish Jungle is a typically intrepid delight. What separates this nonet from pretenders on either side of the Atlantic is its ability to pay homage to the jazz tradition with a joyfully brash sense of adventure.

           "Fullmoon for a Rhino" slinks with the bawdy gusto and harmonic grandeur of Ellington and Mingus, anchored by Jesper Zeuthen's bass clarinet, which has the wet, penetrating tone of a bullfrog. Zeuthen switches to alto sax for the Charlie Parker homage "The Enigmatic Bird," which deftly evolves from its flitting, dissonant horns and fusillade of cymbals into whirlpool rhythms and solos featherbedded by lighthearted harmonies and bongo drum fills. "Carrier-Pigeon's Perspective" has the pensive, suspended animation of an Art Ensemble of Chicago tune, broken by odd gusts of rhythm, and there's also a beautiful rendition of a church hymn, "Det koster ej for megen strid," written by Denmark's most renowned classical composer, Carl Nielsen.

           On five of the final six tracks, the Jungle Orchestra flash the Afro-Euro-American dance chops that are a vital aspect of its core identity. Dorge's spry, spindly guitar lines stake a middle ground between Nigerian high-life and Zairian soukous, while the rhythm section canters with polytonal abandon and dissonant trombone squawks. Yet other assorted bits of ruckus remind us that it is all jazz: grinning, caterwauling, global music. (Britt Robson)

The Olympic Death Squad



Phil Krauth

Silver Eyes


           Blue is new product from Mark Robinson, who here calls himself The Olympic Death Squad, a pretty cool name for a non-band. The recording itself is a gorgeous little half-hour set, one I was ready to dismiss as regression until the songs sank in. As the leader of the great indie pop group Unrest for a decade (before splitting from drummer Phil Krauth to form Air Miami), Robinson's angelic singing and melancholic guitar loops could stop time, and the band's long, tightly wound hypno-jams showed Yo La Tengo and Stereolab how it was done. The airy Air Miami, by contrast, just feels like Unrest lite: same bassist/singer (Bridget Cross), but no dirty lyrics, no stretched-out melodies, no pulsating instrumentals.

           Blue, however, has all those things--and a sense of fun, too. It's a spare and repetitive 10-song collection, driven by the most sensuous, echoey drum programming I've heard and Robinson's still-remarkable voice: He morphs from lusty commandant on "This Is Riot Gear" (singing, "take me/please me") to Mr. Sensitive on "Show Your Age," with no apparent lapse in sincerity. Bewilderingly stupid lyrics like "Ski/I can ski/I can ski/I can ski with you" (on "Ski Jump") are sung with such lovely control you soon forget the words. And if all the elements sound familiar--distorted vocals, cascading guitar lines, wall-of-Robinson harmonizing--well, he did practically invent this shit.

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