17 Pygmies

13 Blackbirds/13 Lotus

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Along with Jackson Del Rey's fascinating return to his solo career with his soundtrack for Battleship Potemkin, his old band, 17 Pygmies, return after 17 years gone (fitting). And this finds Del Rey picking up not where early, well-admired, more clashing works such as Jedda by the Sea left off, but more later works with lovely voiced Louise Bialik such as 1988's penultimate Welcome (only without that LP's breaks). The backgrounds are playful, but just as full of an unnoticed lushness, and (again) repetitive backgrounds underneath Bialik's cooing. Few groups manage such immediate songs with such artistic backing tracks, yielding new possibilities and sounds every time you delve deeper into them. Only a faithful, hidden bonus cover of Paul McCartney's White Album Beatles acoustic track "Blackbird" is exactly what it seems on first blush. (The second disc is 13 remixes of one song, "Lotus" -- highly creative, though way too exhausting. Another artful pressed sleeve, too, along with the one for Battleship.)

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