Alone again, or - Page 3

Stew & Lightspeed Champion evoke the Afro-Baroque between the boom-bip bip and the ballot

His brand of Afro iconoclasm — which got him signed as a Test Icicle at 19 and now gets him fêted for sepia twang in his early 20s — would have encountered far more roadblocks on American shores where young black males are required to be consistently hard and never punks (catch the final season of The Wire). Plus ça change, eh, Josephine et Jimmy? Of course, Hynes's will-to-flight was telegraphed from childhood when he penned a comic about a superhero from Planet Voltarz whose power derived from wielding mathematical equations. The superhero's moniker? Lightspeed Champion, whose power in maturity will likely rest on "touring until I die."

When he performed at that East Village hip cloister Mercury Lounge before a small fawning audience sporting about — a record — six Negroes, the fur-helmeted Champion in David Ruffin's black glasses, a self-willed superhero and Urkel-in-Little Richard's hairpiece, seemed to be signaling that the secret power propelling him out of the dystopic urban milieu he described was not merely blowing up in America but striving to refine a hyperliterate and well-enunciated language to get his Romantic apologias across. And don't let the widescreen alt-country symphony "Galaxy of the Lost" fool you — our Devonte's still black enough for ya, with his disc being inspired by a lot of hip-hop and by closing his debut with an ode to his Mama: "No Surprise (For Wendela)." If Falling Off the Lavender Bridge does the biniss projected, this postmodern Professor Longhair is on his way. Watch his space.

Despite the decades of separation, Stew and his fellow black Atlantic jumper Lightspeed Champion are both still seeking newer sonic horizons, even as that campaigning purveyor of "Them Changes," B-rack Obama, is traveling electric miles to paint the White House black.

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