City Slang: Weekly Music Review Roundup


Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to

Lee Abramson’s The Bionic Mouth is a fucking weird album, in all the good ways. Abramson is wheelchair-bound with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), and yet he's found a way to create some wonderfully strange, yet warm electronic music. The Bionic Mouth is essentially a greatest hits record, a compilation of his finest work. He’s an inspiration, and should provide a wake-up call to musicians not working with the same limitations who "call it in."

Jake Bass’s 1989 (Boca J Music) is apparently named after the year of his birth, which explains why there’s a picture of him in the bath on the inner sleeve. Fittingly enough, the synth instrumental tunes are reminiscent of the late ’80s. Fortunately, they’re also strong and blessed with a contemporary edge that leaves them sounding not the least bit dated. They would fit comfortably on an indie film score – no bad thing.

Frank Pahl sent us two recent releases, “both collaborations with the late great synthesist Dennis Palmer, who died in February 2013. Besides being half of the Shaking Ray Levis, Dennis was an improviser and visual artist who collaborated with many of the great free improv players.” That would explain why the albums Pahl-Mer and Fishers O’ Wufmen are so surreal. Enjoyable in their minimalism and eccentricity, sure. But still surreal. There’s no nailing these albums down. They’re both symphonic and an auditory cacophony. Makes for a nice contradiction.

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