Wu Tang Clan
Forget what anyone, including members of the Clan itself says about RZA’s beats, 8 Diagrams is the best album to be released under the Tang name in a decade. Fans hoping for a return to the 36 Chambers are naturally disappointed, of course, but everything from the beats to the rhymes has evolved since ’94. The latest album is less revolutionary only because we’ve come to demand this type of advanced shit from the Wu. The drawback: 8 Diagrams, on first listen, is dense and nearly indecipherable. Destined to become a retroactive classic in about 2010.
Daft Punk — a house/techno/god-knows-what duo leaning heavily on computers and other studio technology and not, for the most part, relying on traditional instrumentation — releasing a live album seems about as logical as a Rico Suave Greatest Hits CD. Their “live performance” mostly consists of double-clicking and robot-suit antics, and we can’t see the robot suits through the speakers. But Alive 2007 somehow rules anyway, with the DP mashing up their most recognizable songs into a near-seamless, hour-plus performance piece. This re-imagining of their discography is a must-have for even casual fans, but considering there’s nothing too groundbreaking here, it’s unlikely to convert any non-believers.
Wolves in Throne Room
pleasance to pant-
soiling frightening, Wolves in the Throne Room is only grouped with black metal temporarily until a few new imitators make whatever this is into a bona-fide genre. The slow, pretty buildups and indecipherable, growling climaxes are enough to keep WTR off the mainstream radar if the 20-plus-minute runtime of some of the songs doesn’t do the trick, but Two Hunters is the type of album you’re stingy with anyway. Everything from the impotent homicidal rage of the aptly named “Behold the Vastness and Sorrow” to the Drano-enema release of “Cleansing” is meant for in-the-dark headphone listening, but that’s just as well. The beauty and horror contained here are meant to make you feel entirely alone in the universe. Not exactly dance-party material, but goddamn it kicks ass. •