Hip children's musicVarious Artists - Dimension Mix:
The Music of Bruce Haack and Esther Nelson
(Eenie Meenie Records)
3 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Dec. 30, 2005
Review by Tony BonyataBruce Haack and Esther Nelson are true pioneers of electronic music. But unlike other artists, such as Brian Eno and Kraftwerk, who derived their synthesized music from the rock and roll idiom, the medium of choice for these two avant-garde composer's was instead children's music.
Despite the fact that Haack and Nelson are far from household names, their eclectic, electronic music from the '60 and '70s has, nonetheless, seeped into the consciousness of modern artists of today, such as Beck, Stereolab, Eels, The Apples in Stereo along with many others.
Named after Haack's Dimension 5 record label, the folks at Eenie Meenie Records have assembled a wealth of talented artists of the day to deliver their own unique takes on Haack and Nelson's music on a tribute album entitled Dimension Mix (which is also benefiting Autism charities).
The album opens with Beck's twisted acoustic blues effort "Funky Lil' Song," a number which sounds as if it could have been an outtake from his beautifully subdued Mutations album. While Beck strikes a human chord on his number, Stereolab opts for a more direct link to Haack and Nelson with their gurgling, effervescent cover of "Mudra," which by song's end morphs into a dreamy bed of ambient pop. The Apples In Stereo give their own unique approach to Haack's reworking of the old New Orleans standard "Liza Jane," while Eels offer up a deliciously devilish cover of "Jelly Dancers," which is spiced with a dizzying Middle Eastern melody.
Newcomers Oranger downplay the electronics in favor of a more straight-forward rock approach on "Catfish," aptly proving that beneath the bleeps, blips and swirling electronic stew, Haack and Nelson knew how to concoct a good pop song. The same can also be said for the Los Angeles-based indie-rock band Irving's irresistible pop gem "Army Ants in Your Pants," despite sounding as if the singer has a handful of marbles in his mouth.
The tone of this entire 18-track collection is quirky, unique and ultimately fun and helps solidify the notion that both Haack and Nelson were years ahead of their time in not only the world of electronic music but children's music as well- speaking to children both musically and lyrically as people and not just kids. Take that Teletubbies.
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