Robbie Robertson

Contact from the Underworld of Red Boy

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Throughout his solo career, Robbie Robertson has been as fascinated with sonics as he was with songwriting, so perhaps it wasn't entirely surprising that he collaborated with techno DJ/producer Howie B and remixer Marius de Vries on his fourth album, Contact From the Underworld of Redboy. Anyone familiar with his moody, atmospheric solo efforts will realize that there's a bigger jump between Music From Big Pink and Robbie Robertson than there is between the Daniel Lanois-produced Robbie Robertson and the ambient-flavored Contact, but the electronic textures and dance beats still may come as a shock to some. The electronics are interwoven with blues, folk, country, and rock, as well as American Indian music. And, as on Music for the Native Americans, Robertson is primarily concerned with American Indians throughout Contact, whether it's through the chants of "Peyote Healing" or the protest of "Sacrifice," which features Leonard Peltier -- a Native American who has been imprisoned since 1976 on charges of murder many believe are fabricated -- on a telephone call. Both his lyrical and musical concerns can get bogged down in their own pretensions, but often, the results are provocative and unique.

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