Aug 08, 2017, 08:01AM

Three Sweat-Slicked Selfies

Triple Threat: Cologne Tape, Brightness, JAY-Z.

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Cologne Tape, “Welt 2”

On “Welt 2,” Cologne Tape wanders out past where its own diving board ends. Which is another way of saying that wisps of sound are strung together, sleepily: some breathy flutes, some micro-bongo rum-pum-pum, some Alka-Seltzer effects. That’s business as usual for this German supergroup, on the new-ish Welt and on its eponymous debut alike; virtuosity is besides the point when you’ve got timing, revel in minimalism, and are in possession of a tuned ear for mixing and matching apparently opposed elements.

Brightness, “Oblivion”

It’s jangled despondency what indie rock is supposed to do right? After all, just like anything else, the act of hiding out in your room or apartment demands a killer soundtrack, or playlist, or whatever we’re calling them now. Breathy, prescriptive, and Australian, “Oblivion” extends a diffident hand to listeners feeling too much all the time or all at once. The phrase “gesturally shoegaze” seems to suit the song, which shuffles to a halt before it’s had a chance to wear out its welcome. 

JAY-Z, “Family Feud”

To all appearances, peace has returned to the valley by this point on 4:44; the parents kissing and making up, the kids rolling around naked in a luxury condo full of freshly-printed Benjamins. Anyhow, we come to “Family Feud” for smug mogul swag and pointed African-American economic nationalism; we linger because No I.D. loops a willing Beyonce into thrilling nu-soul wallpaper. Jay’s in good spirits here, and in great voice—loose, louche, indomitable, cracking wise, riding the same sticky sonic tide as his audience. Yet given the well-publicized subtext for his return to the booth, it’s as difficult not to mishear every wailed “higher” in the production as “liar,” or to wonder how much of this harmony is sincerity, and how much is theater.


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