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Kieran Hebden & Steve Reid - NYC

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Artist: Kieran Hebden & Steve Reid

Album: NYC

Label: Domino

Review date: Dec. 5, 2008

Stretched across 30 minutes of an almost continuous post-modern boogaloo, Kieran Hebden and Steve Reidís ginned-up speakíníspell-ectronics pay homage to New York City. There are patches of cascading squeals, growls and sirens, neatly checking off every marker of the Gotham spectrum, as well as the peripheral air of indie guitar and eastern chimes. The beat itself slows quickly and stops to mark the end of each piece, the way a subway train seems to accelerate before stopping at each station.

Our cheeks glued to the A trainís cold, glass window with the spit of sleep, we can feel Steve Reidís drums throughout our entire body. They donít enter through the ear or the eyes or the heart. They enter through the bone. Drilled in, relentless, faster than funk, heavier than rock, with more gravity than the Motown of Reidís early career, the persistent beat takes breaks, but never breaks up. Reid, who now lives in Switzerland, could almost have defined New York City without Hebdenís assistance Ė at least the NYC that so many non-New Yorkers envision.

Reidís rolling, sweeping, ever-present groove takes on colors and textures, courtesy of Hebden and his suite of gizmos (real or imagined), but itís always the same hard road, the same track of tandem steel rays that cut through every borough, every station, every hall and every mind. In context of their mutual mini-career making music together (and itís not like they havenít both shined on their own), the work sounds almost like an epilogue, down to the intro of the last track "Departure." It begins with what sounds suspiciously like the kora that blessed so much of the duoís African adventure from last year, Daxaar. The kora is beautiful, itís what makes the track unique, but itís color nonetheless, the scent of mafe and jollof rice sweetening the air as it wafts down the sidewalk of a spontaneous Little Senegal, still in Harlem, still in NYC. The tight, focused funk they call NYC.

By Andy Freivogel

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