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andee's world: Revisiting a Winter Classic

andee's world

Hello and welcome to my blog. This space will be devoted to opinions, observations, lists, articles and whatever else I feel like posting. Subjects will include music, human nature, politics, life in NYC, etc. If I paste someone else's writing up here, it is because the author said something way better than I ever could. By the way, I don't claim to be a particularly smart guy; I'm just a musician with some opinions. If you disagree with me, that's cool -- but then, you're probably wrong.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Revisiting a Winter Classic

Moloko; I Am Not a Doctor (1998)

I don't know if it's the wintry cover art or that fact that I first got my teeth in to this record in the cold months of 2001, but for me, I Am Not a Doctor is an album best heard after the second solstice.

Somehow this mind-bending English band (based around the core duo of producer/instrumentalist Mark Brydon and vocalist Roisin Murphy) doesn't even have an American record deal, so you're gonna have to scour Ebay to find most of their stuff. Believe me, it's worth it. I've been following this group ever since the delectable Eartha Kitt-by-way-of-Parliament romp "Fun for Me" got its hook up my nose in late '97.

It's pure folly to try describing music like this because it's just its own thing. I could tell you that Moloko throw quite a bit of slinky electronica, idiosyncratic pop, funk grooves, skittery drum-n-bass beats and even sophisticated jazzy harmony into their pot, but I don't know that reading that pile of adjectives and vague genre signposts will prepare you for the experience of hearing them.

Of course a huge part of Moloko's magnetism is Murphy, a chanteuse with a voice and sensibility all her own, equal parts purring coquettishness, inscrutable weirdness and wicked, cagey intelligence. As divas go, Roisin's as good as it gets, thoroughly captivating and totally unique, not only recorded but onstage (check out the band's live dvd, 10,000 Clicks and see for yourself).

I Am Not a Doctor is blessed by the indispensable "Sing It Back" (a great house remix of which appears at the end of the band's third album, Things to Make and Do), plus the lovely, luxurious "Caught In a Whisper," the near-jazzy "Downsized" (think Chaka Khan meets Autechre) and "Blink," with its nervous electronic rhythm track and near-menacing vocal and synth textures.

Moloko: joyful, smart, catchy, oblique, soulful, bizarre, danceable. What more do you want?


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