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Joseph Bertolozzi—Bridge Music
(Delos Productions)

To coincide with the recent 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s exploration of the river that bears his name, Beacon composer Joseph Bertolozzi did something few of us would’ve dreamed of: He turned the Mid-Hudson Bridge, which connects the cities of Highland and Poughkeepsie, into what is perhaps the world’s largest percussion instrument. Using contact microphones, a variety of striking implements, the latest sampling technology, and a loose system of notation, Bertolozzi and his helpers recorded and arranged the sounds of various parts of the steel structure being hit—everything from the suspension cables to the beams to the on-ramp sign—into the suite of 10 distinct musical pieces that make up Bridge Music.

Since plans for performing the composition live proved undoable, other than the listening stations now permanently installed at both ends of the bridge or the limited-range radio transmitter set to broadcast the pieces 24 hours a day, the only way to enjoy Bridge Music is through these recordings (the tracks are also available online). After hearing a few of these clanging, clanking, pinging, and undeniably, er, riveting tunes (sample titles: “Steel Works,” “Bridge Funk,” “Meltdown”) the next time you drive across the 3,000-foot-long, 135-foot-tall architectural wonder you’ll likely view it in whole new way—a way that will have you wondering just exactly what Bertolozzi will dream up next. Bet the Lincoln Tunnel would make a hell of a pan flute. —Peter Aaron

www.delosmusic.com

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Ratboy Jr.—Ratboy Jr.
(Not Your Daddy’s Records)

On their debut EP, Ratboy Jr. find themselves comfortably performing music for kids, joining a recent trend that sees everyone from They Might Be Giants and Dan Zanes to local luminaries Dog On Fleas giving young music lovers hipper options than the homogenized sounds ordinarily foisted upon them.

Fans of New Paltz-based Ratboy were already familiar with Tim Sutton and Matt Senzatimore’s quirky take on pop music, and the transition to recording children’s music heard on this 5-track collection comes off as natural. And that’s a good thing, because kids today can sniff out a phony.

While their live shows have been at the very least celebratory affairs, that doesn’t always translate to record. Perhaps the truest test of whether kid-oriented music works is the road trip. Can the music engage the kids in the back seat without driving the parents in the front off the deep end? In the case of Ratboy Jr., the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

Opening with “Banana Stand,” Ratboy Jr’s EP works from beginning to end, taking on classic road trip questions (“Are We There Yet”) and stopping along the way to do a bit of daydreaming (“Floating Up”). —Crispin Kott

www.ratboyjr.com

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Ian Lloyd—In the Land of O-de-PO
(Machine Dream Records)

Before delving into the present, it’s important to touch upon the past. And the past, in the case of Ian Lloyd, includes the 1973 chart topper “Brother Louie,” a Hot Chocolate cover recorded while the singer was in Stories. While the tune relegated the band to one-hit wonder status, Lloyd’s career was far from over. In addition to session work as a vocalist, he’s released numerous solo albums over the years, with the latest In the Land of O-de-PO.

It’s impossible to nail down what era the music on In the Land of O-de-PO evokes. Lloyd’s powerful vocals are often layered, and when they’re not, they hit the same highs as heard more than 30 years ago. The sounds Lloyd chose to work with on his first solo album in more than a decade are far more futuristic, with electronic beats, squeaks and bleeps throughout.

The combination works well on tracks like “Wonderful World,” which blends the insistent rhythms of Stereo MC’s “Connected” with a message of positivity, as well as on “Hi2fly,” which somehow updates the bombast of ‘80s radio rock without a shred of pretension.

Sadly, the album proper closes with an updated version of “Brother Louie,” on which the singer’s former glories are dressed up in modern technology to cold and clinical effect. Had Lloyd been confident enough in all that came before, In the Land of O-de-PO might well have heralded a return to form. The inclusion of a re-imagined chestnut was smart from a marketing standpoint, but as a musical choice it falls flat. —Crispin Kott

www.myspace.com/ianlloydsstories

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