SHADOWY ELEMENTS OF Andrea Parker's spare songs have a spooky way of welling up out of nowhere and then slinking back into the darkness whence they came. The debut album of this classically trained cellist and former session vocalist, Kiss My Arp, lures vintage Eighties electro-funk into rough territory, crossing John Robie with John Barry and getting abstract without ever losing the groove. "Melodious Thunk" and "In Two Minds" lurch forward with weird aplomb: Tinny snares, oscillating squeals, and Texas Instruments' Talking Dictionary chirps commingle with atmospheric string and percussion samples, overlaid with Parker's live bass and cello playing.
The songwriter's arrangements are as consistently interesting (if not as consistently inspired) as those of fellow Mo' Wax-alum DJ Shadow. So why did Parker decide to sing on four of Kiss My Arp's songs when they would have been better off without this? Because vocals equal pop and that's where she wants to go? Because self-expression has a storied history of, you know, deep lyrics? Well, she won't, and these lyrics aren't. This odd decision to follow DJ-cum-vocalist DJ Rap into the why-the-hell-are-you-doing-that breach hardly cripples this carefully composed album. But Parker's generically breathy trip-hop croon does sound like the echo of an afterthought.
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