Björk, Beth Orton, and Julie Doiron would be dang proud of Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn's successful forays into the wilderness of mutable forms, remixes on Joyride: Remixes (K, 2006), and meditations on the secret lives of insects with Spectratone International on Share This Place: Stories and Observations (K, 2007). Working with certified Mt. Eerie/Microphones genius Phil Elverum, Mirah defies her old lo-fi rep with this full-blown sleeper gem of a CD, gamboling from the string-dappled opening gut-punch of "Generosity" to the shimmering snare and delicate guitar coloration of "Education." (a)spera grabs for classic pop beauty standards and succeeds on its own terms hurdy gurdy, bongos, kalimba, kora, and all.
And speaking of Malian kora, one mustn't neglect that country's Amadou and Mariam departing for the more futuristic, less folkloric reaches of pop with Welcome to Mali (Because Music/Nonesuch). The only ship the blind couple will be wrecking is that of pop purists expecting another Dimanche a Bamako (Because Music/Nonesuch, 2005). The subtly tweaked Afro-futurist soundscapes littered with appearances by performers like K'Naan and Toumani Diabate hew closer to a digitized, disco-ball-glittered, cosmopolitan Paris than a more rustic, impoverished Mali. Amadou and Mariam narrow the divide between the two with the sparkling, Damon Albarn-produced rave-up "Sabali," the wah-wah-wailing kora-laced slo-funk of "Djuru," and the rump-shaking Afro-rock sizzle of "Masiteladi." I'm absolutely besotted with the balafon plonk mashed up with electric guitar twang on the palm-wine-'n'-spaghetti-Western(-African) "Ce N'Est Pas Bon." Congotronics and ethnotronicans, welcome to A&M's mothership connection wake up, shake it up, and get ready for takeoff. Can't wait to see where it takes us next.
MT. ST. HELENS VIETNAM BAND
with Bishop Allen and Miniature Tigers
Tues/24, 7:30 p.m., $15
155 Fell, SF
with Tender Forever and Leyna Noel
April 7, 8 p.m., $16
Bimbo's 365 Club
1025 Columbus, SF