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Corpses and Tightrope Walkers
Orange Peal Records

Dreary best describes this locally based foursome. Merging dark, moody poetry with despondent music, Retromotive drowns in exquisite depression. Similar to the Smiths, the band also hints at influences of the Cure, Pink Floyd and the Doors. Gloomy vocals and lingering melodies carry disturbing imagery: "My spectral galleon carves the waves/Where skeletons of dolphins play" ("Boatswain"); "I look at you your bleeding tongue/I feel my tendons come unstrung/and quickly falter out of tune/I fall across the room" ("Broken Man"). The band also covers the Blue Öyster Cult classic "Don't Fear the Reaper." (RetroMotive plays Jan. 26 at the Usual in San Jose.) (Sarah Quelland)

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Various Artists
Plastic Compilation Volume 02

Recently, record companies have flooded us with so many generic electronic music compilations that it's tempting to dismiss the whole lot. But the second volume in Nettwerk's Plastic series shines because of its superlative artists and confectionery pop appeal. Featuring such stars of the rave scene as the Crystal Method, William Orbit and Sasha, the album combines exuberant dance anthems with playful nods to New York electro and great remixes of pop musicians. In lesser hands, such remixes tend to be embarrassing gimmicks--ever hear the disco version of the Celine Dion Titanic song? Here, though, the remixers respect the visions of the original songs even while totally transforming them. Thus what looks disastrous on paper--like Roni Size's jungle remix of Sarah McLachlan's "Sweet Surrender"--ends up sounding surprisingly ethereal and innovative. Other treats include a bouncy, delirious reworking of Cornershop's "Brimful of Asha" and a beguiling, hypnotic take on French popsters Autour De Lucie's "Sur Tes Pas." (Michelle Goldberg)

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From the January 14-20, 1999 issue of Metro.

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