Brian Ritchie

I See a Noise

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Solo albums are often a way for an artist to release music that is too odd for the group who brought them to public attention. When the band involved is the Violent Femmes, the material involved might be presumed to be pretty strange. And indeed, some of the songs on I See a Noise are mighty eccentric, but that's not to say that they aren't very good. "2 Tongues, 2 Minds" is not only a fantastic showpiece of jazz bass playing, it's also a brilliant example of fusion between rock music and Arabic percussion, and insidiously catchy to boot. Elsewhere Ritchie shows himself a gifted arranger, notably on "Quo Vadis," which combines Coltrane-like saxophone squawks with driving rock and complex polyrhythmic percussion. Since this is after all a Brian Ritchie album, there are a few pieces that are silly, but they're also oddly affecting -- "Please Don't Cry For Me (When I Die)" is so wacky that everyone laughs at it the first time they hear it, but it survives repeated listenings very well. I See a Noise is a mighty fine piece of work from an artist who is consistently interesting and engaging, one of rock's true originals.

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