Opium Jukebox

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When a former member of Pigface, Killing Joke, and Ministry suddenly discovers his sense of humor, it's a good idea to duck and cover -- the joke may not be an entirely pleasant one. To be fair, Opium Jukebox isn't really Martin Atkins' first stab at humor (that honor probably goes to his Christmas album), nor is it entirely clear that a joke is all this curious covers album is meant to be; the eerily beautiful instrumental rendition of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" that opens the album sounds serious enough, and Atkins' industrial-strength adaptation of EMF's "Unbelievable," with its samples of Indian vocalists and its smatterings of turntablism, almost sounds respectful. But it's hard to believe that the drastic reconstructions of "Tainted Love" and "Whip It" are meant to be anything other than tongue-in-cheek. Joke or not, the beats are all heavy and expertly wielded, and the textural variations consistently interesting. Recommended.

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