Arto Lindsay: Invoke

Arto Lindsay


Righteous Babe

In 1995, Arto Lindsay took yet another stylistic turn. He'd already done stints as a noise-guitar kingpin with early No Wave heroes DNA and downtown jazz-not-jazzers the Lounge Lizards, and as an avant-funkster in his duo with Peter Scherer, Ambitious Lovers. But Lindsay's release of the solo album O Corpo Sutil (The Subtle Body) put a bid on reclaiming the music he'd grown up with as the child of American missionaries in Brazil. Singing in both English and Portuguese, he came on like even more of a total original than he was before. His singing was breathy and beguiling, simultaneously gawky and sexy, and he played those seeming opposites against each other to produce a luxurious tension. (The best example of this might be seen on his cover of Prince's "Erotic City," from 1997's Mundo Civilizado.)

Invoke is the fifth entry into this section of Lindsay's discography. Like 1999's Prize, there's a little more of his earlier noise in evidence here: The squalling funk of "Predigo" is reminiscent of the Ambitious Lovers template, while "In the City That Reads" pits Lindsay's guitar skronk against an arty backdrop like a trickier Tricky. But it's the reliable bliss of his signature style that keeps you coming back.

Much is made of Lindsay's lyrics--sometimes by me--and it's true that lines like "You decide, you decide/Let the weather decide" ("You Decide") or "It's dark and tart/Puddles reflecting/Cheekbones, fog/Way too flattering" ("Over/ Run") reinforce his music's immersive effect--seductively passive, but with a cockily arched eyebrow. But what gives the most pleasure on these records isn't the words, or even the singing, as fine as both often are. It's the sheer sound: When Lindsay repeats a high-pitched "I invoke," it's the way the keyboards and violin curlicue themselves around the shifting, subtly Latin beat that sticks with you. He really does invoke--demonstrating without explaining, getting his point fully across without making it any more explicit than he has to.