Basehead

DC

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AllMusic Review by

On his fifth album as Basehead and third album as a Christian, Michael Ivey swings away from the hermetic, electronic landscapes of 1998's In the Name of Jesus, but not his simultaneously insistent and vague system of belief. Percussionists Pete Van Allen and Jay Nichols pour on most of the instrumental snap, together and apart, with Van Allen hitting hard, crisp, and a little behind the beat (think John Bonham growing a funk sensibility), and Nichols with a slightly lighter, swing-touched feel. Ivey encloses an admonition from Matthew 6:24 against serving "both God and money," and a few tracks touch on this idea in unique ways -- "Sold Out" translates as ridding oneself of materialism for enlightenment, while the protagonist of "Walking" finds himself on an unsettling stroll through hallucinatory terrain of consumerist confusion. Ivey's metaphorical imagery informs, and somewhat offsets, his inevitable recapitulation to the Almighty. "Pink Eyed Girl" is a Jesus-free, affectionate portrait of an ideal mate who may or may not exist outside the tale-spinner's mind's eye (another surrealistic touch; a pink-eyed girl would suffer from either conjunctivitis or albinism). "Respect" bears no relation to Aretha Franklin or Otis Redding, except that Ivey slyly assumes the persona of black consciousness throughout history, from the pyramids through slavery to, "I taught your king Elvis how to have some soul/And I gave birth to a child called rock & roll." One or two tracks jut on past their vocal portions like soundtrack music to a movie listeners can't see (or are meant to create with their own eyes), but on the whole the mastermind's unique combination of the whisper and the guttural, his effective use of subtly shifting patterns inside a repeating framework, and his talented co-conspirators lift DC into distinction and miles in some direction or other from any stereotyped Christian rock bin.

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