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Wednesday, July 21, 1999

Pick Your Pattern

Posted By on Wed, Jul 21, 1999 at 12:00 AM

Clearly, the Pastels and Derek Bailey have little to do with each other. The Pastels are a Glasgow-based indie-pop band who were known and loved for an engagingly gawky string of amazing 45s – and a few tuneful CDs – in the late ’80s. Derek Bailey, on the other hand, is an internationally acclaimed free-jazz, improvisational guitarist from England who has been performing and making records for nearly 30 years.

So, what do these two new albums have in common if the recording artists are so damn different? Simple: Both discs showcase progressive sound orientations crafted by a slew of unusual guest artists. While indefinable sound artist Jim O’Rourke is the only musician to work on both projects, there is a dreamy electronic cohesion among many other cutting-edge musicians. The twee rocktopia of the Pastels is modulated and reshuffled by British sound merchants such as My Bloody Valentine and Stereolab, as well as such German electronic mavens as Mouse On Mars and To Rococo Rot. Tortoise’s John McEntire, the psychedelic Third Eye Foundation and many others embrace the distinctive music of the Pastels as structured rock templates to be sonically deified. On Playbacks, Derek Bailey engages in some seriously avant-garde interactions with a variety of prerecorded rhythm tracks. Ex-Tortoise, studio heads Bundy K. Brown and Casey Rice both contribute fascinating backdrops for Bailey, as does plunderphonic auteur John Oswald, post-rock connoisseur Sasha Frere-Jones, San Francisco guitar whiz Henry Kaiser and plenty more.

Am I the only one seeing a pattern here?

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