David Byrne

Visible Man

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It was no secret that David Byrne nourished a newfound interest in dance music on his 1997 Feelings tour. Going so far as to employ a DJ onstage instead of a traditional rhythm section could easily have looked like a desperate attempt to stay relevant. The resulting sound and attitude, however, actually worked for the middle-aged frontman, who had seemed bereft of musical inspiration in the few years preceding. Brand new electro updates of older material sounded fresh and even fitting onstage, especially a sinister new version of "Psycho Killer" which Byrne would deliver onstage wearing his Visible Man outfit: a lycra body suit depicting the human muscular system in gory detail. So when David Byrne recruited a handful of techno-influenced producers to whip up some fresh, innovative, beat-heavy takes on his material, many of his fans expected something that would resemble his live set. "Psycho Killer" redux is not present on Visible Man, nor the new "I Zimbra," nor any other gem from his 1997 set list. Instead, six tracks from Feelings have been selected and are given stock-issue techno backbones. There's a lot of repetition from track to track, and too little of the energy Byrne's live shows boasted. A few bright spots manage to shine through this otherwise standard remix album. Underground luminaries Thievery Corp. spin a tranced-up "Dance on Vaseline," which develops a nice dark groove throughout the track. DJ Food delivers the only genuinely interesting spin on the source work in his retooling of "Fuzzy Freaky." The shattered beats and tortured, nearly demolished vocal track convey Byrne's nervous energy from years past nearly better than Byrne had ever done himself.

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