Musical Kaleidoscope : Infected Mushroom & Sonic Youth

My Musical Kaleidoscope!

The idea is:

  1. Friends, family and whoever throw out some album recommendations.
  2. I pick two, give them a spin and blog the result.


Legend of the Black Sharwama : by Infected Mushroom

Infected Mushroom is a band I had not heard of before. I’m not familiar with any of their previous albums, but this release does land fairly close to my musical sweet spot: techno/electronica with a hard edge. There are some guitars present, but this is predominantly dance music and with only hints of industrial and metal.

The first track is nice and exotic. There’s an oriental sounding instrument, some crunchy guitars, chopped up vocals and plenty of techno beats. It’s catchy, but the second track Sa’eed stands out even more. A quirky little start gives a taste of the vocals, before pulsing along to some solid techno. Then half way it breaks through into some clean singing, before suddenly soaring into the stratosphere. It’s got everything. Some nice piano followed by a prowling guitar and droning then back up into the ridiculously uplifting chorus. Awesome song

All the songs are quite catchy, but those with singing are more so. Guest singers Jonanthan Davis (of Korn) and Perry Farrell(of Janes Addiction) are present. Davis in particular is quite impressive with his range.

I’ve only touched on a fe, but there is a quirkiness and inventiveness present through the 12 songs . It’s all techno, but with a diverse pallet producing constantly interesting results. The band actually originate from Haifa in northern Israel. I’m not sure if this heritage contributes to the exotic nature of the music, but I’m sold.

The final track is a cover of Riders on the Storm (also done in techno). It’s pretty special. My favourite element is Jim Morrison’s vocals (I presume) being distorted as if he was being sucked through a dimensional vortex.

The short version.

So yes I liked this a lot. I do find 12 techno songs back to back a bit hard to take and that would be my only complaint.


Daydream Nation : by Sonic Youth

In 1996 I was 19. I bought a copy of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and started getting into Alternative Music in a big way.

In 1991 Nirvana released Nevermind, Smells Like Teen Spirit was #1 on Rage and 13 yr old me didn’t know what all the fuss was about.

And in 1988 I had no idea who Sonic Youth was, let alone anything about their album Daydream Nation. This situation mostly continued for the next 22 years. Along with bands like Dinosaur Jr and The Pixies, they seemed to be the older and influential, but less exciting Alternative music bands.

Discovering Sonic Youth.

Listening to the first four or so tracks, I felt very much at home with the music. Like a person I’ve just met, but felt I’ve known for years.

It’s guitar oriented music but certainly different from the Metal in the 80s. It has some punk energy, but is far more relaxed and breezy. Melody and pop elements are there, providing many of the albums sweetest catchy hooks. However as the guitars jangle along creating strange soundscapes I could sense of darker drama too. It’s also much faster and aggressive than I expected. From start to finish, I loved the music here.

The vocals are the element I have appreciated least. At times it compliments with a sour yell, but at other times it becomes more annoying. One of the singers(Lee Ranaldo) frankly cannot sing, sounding like a Bob Dylan impersonator. His songs were the low point for me.

The other offputting element is an intermittent “I’m so cool” element. Perhaps I’m reliving my frustrations at the pretentious art degree kids never talking to me. One reason I love Heavy Metal is it’s so straightforward, earnest and passionate. Sonic Youth sometimes touches on the bored/ironic/slacker vibe and it pushes me away.

I think I get it.

From what I’ve read, this is a landmark album and it sounds like it. I sense here the progenitor of the whole Alternative scene that would dominate the next 10 years. I suspect it’s probably not as simple as that, but it certainly feels like a big piece of modern guitar rock jigsaw puzzle has been filled in.

And regardless of its place in history, it’s flat out a good album too.



I’ll be listening to…

  • Assuming I can find a copy, Billy Joel with An Innocent Man
  • Something else… a suggestion, please ? 🙂

Thanks to Ben and Steve for this weeks suggestions.