Singing the cyber blues - Page 2

Less the "black Björk" than heir to Arthur Lee's black rock throne, Janelle Monaé preps for blastoff

Opening with a fiery guitar lick fit to rival Lee's "Alone Again Or" in menace and dread as well as a shout-out of love and understanding (in sound) to the brothers and sisters in Iraq's killing fields, "Fantasy," NdegeOcello's radical reconstruction, is a single-song masterpiece delivered in stentorian cyber-affect.

As Monaé's Metropolis aspires, it builds an almost unscalable mountain for black rock artists to leap in a single bound. The She-droid summons black Atlantis, expressing the very crux of the "20 odd Negroes" and their American descendants' existential crisis — the very reason why we all perpetually want to take a ride on that ship Fantasii — intoning in deadened tones, "Every man has a place," while fading to black. Even though Sahelian falsetto Phillip Bailey appears nowhere to hit That Note, an exhilarating soprano channeling Syreeta Wright steps into the breach for Hendrix's sacrificed Stratocaster. Hi-ho niggaz! Now, that's passing strange into the stratosphere, "where other kind that has been in search of you" await with healing alien embraces. Here be Dragons of Zynth and ATLien rock replicants from outta ouro-boroughs like the vainglorious Monaé in the relentlessly hybridizing black Atlantic, breaking microchips off the old block to highlight yet another way to blue — and effect a funky space reincarnation.

Also from this author

  • Songs of flesh and faith

    Revelations from Josh T. Pearson, last of the genuine country gentlemen

  • In the Whispering Pines

     L.A.'s singing cowboys and sistagirls ride the tide of roots revival

  • Son of the source

    Jonathan Wilson and California as muse

  • Also in this section

  • Good things, small packages

    33 1/3, the ultimate record collector's novella series, turns 10

  • No thanks, Bono

    Three new albums that should magically appear on your iPod in place of Songs of Innocence

  • A show a day: Your fall music calendar

    FALL ARTS 2014 Like a daily multivitamin, your recommended dose of live shows through November