Thursday, June 28, 2012

Moving Exhibition by Virginia Schotchie-“The Seven Deadly Sins”

 By Judit Trunkos

Virginia Schotchie is a Ceramics Professor and an artist at USC. Her moving exhibit titled “The Seven Deadly Sins” will be presented on June 26th starting at 5:30 p.m. at McMaster Gallery of USC and continue to move until it reaches Five Points at 631-D Harden Street, in front of Gallery V. Schotchie’s “The Seven Deadly Sins” features a new interpretation of the biblical sins using abandoned shopping carts and animal figures. The moving exhibition is one of Schotchie’s new mixed media works, which have been also exhibited in New York at the Thomas Hunter Project Gallery in May. At the destination of the moving piece, the artist will discuss her work between 6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.
The Seven Deadly Sins” is a one-day event in which art students of Schotchie will be pushing seven shopping carts and its content from McMaster Gallery to Gallery V. Inside the carts are Schotchie’s interpretation of the sins as well as critical symbols of other human behaviors such as ceramic figures and other objects. The “Seven Deadly Sins” will remain at Five Points by the Hootie and the Blow Fish sculpture until 7:00 p.m. for viewing and discussion. This is an ongoing show, which also means that the artists will be adding to the sins in the future, therefore, the moving exhibition will be different every time it is shown.
For Schotchie, the symbolic animals represent many different things at the same time. Some of them are very personal; others are more philosophical or ideological. The 47 ceramic punching bags, for instance, stand for anger and rage but also for Schotchie’s brother’s age, who was murdered at his business in Asheville, North Carolina four years ago. The pig is a symbol of gluttony, but at the same time emphasizes the inhumane matter in which people raise and kill animals to fill up the meet section of the grocery stores.

The pieces are
mixed media and in addition to the shopping carts, they are made of foam, astro turf, clay, cement and enamel. In terms of the techniques used to create this show, some of the pieces making the “Seven Deadly Sins” such as the punching bags were slipped cast from a real punching bag and then made from porcelain clay, juxtaposing the idea of a punching bag being something you hit (maybe in anger) but at the same time the bags are made of something as fragile as porcelain.

City Paper: When the City paper asked Schotchie about her inspiration for this show, she replied:
Living in the Bible Belt in the South and being raised Catholic by parents from Ohio; I have reinterpreted the religious concept of the Seven Deadly Sins in my work. The installation consists of seven shopping carts that were found on the side of the street in Columbia, South Carolina.” Explained Schotchie.

City Paper: Why use abandoned Shopping carts?

The abandoned carts I have collected from street corners are obviously carts used on the "streets" not in the stores. The carts used represent huge American businesses such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot, The Dollar Store, and Publix.  Each cart contains ceramic and concrete objects.” Said Schotchie about the corporations. 
City paper: Can you tell us more about the content of the shopping carts?
“In addition to the sins, the animals also serve as a metaphor for some of our human behavior for example; the cart with a white sheep is a metaphor of how we go along day by day without questioning, justifying or even wanting to know the true reality of the new status quo in the United States. In one of the carts there is a dog representing "man’s best friend" of which we put millions to sleep each year in our animal shelters. Another cart is full of yellow and red chicks, which can be seen as a representation of our inhuman treatment of the animals we raise for food. The pig is a metaphor for our glutinous food consumption in the USA. The animals represent the disengagement and detachment we have from our own reality. “Explained Schotchie.
To find out more about the exhibit or the artists, visit

WIN, lose or draw

The session ends tomorrow with the approval of the budget.  Conservation Voters of South Carolina has won some, lost some and is already preparing for the next session. With your help, we educate and advocate to protect South Carolina’s land, air and water. The State House can be complicated and confusing.  Our job is to tell you what you need to know.  We are sending you three “wrap-up” emails to give you a snap shot of the hands we were dealt.  Thanks for helping us get these winning results that make a difference for the South Carolina you love.

 The WINS:

We secured the life of the Conservation Bank for five more years and celebrated the restoration of the Bank’s full funding for the first time since 2008- an estimated $9 million.

We pushed important protections for water across the finish line: banning phosphorus, reducing chronic sewage pollution and clearing the way for necessary water withdrawal fees to be collected.

We settled questions about the Pollution Control Act with a compromise with industry and developers that salvages a process for citizens to protect themselves from pollution, establishes a Wetlands Study Committee and protects existing lawsuits such as the one contesting the Savannah River deepening.

 Please take the time to thank legislators for the work they do to keep the South Carolina we love clean and healthy. Click ACT NOW below to send a quick thank you message to your own legislator or to specific ones cited in the complete Hotlist Wrap-Up.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Columbia City Paper shoots the breeze with Aaron Hemphill of Liars about the importance of palindromes, musical collaboration, Milwaukee, and of course- Lana Del Rey.

FR:  Can you tell me a little about the story behind the album title, WIXIW - it's so difficult and symmetrical. I love it.

AH:  There are so many meanings and qualities that led us to choose WIXIW as the album title.  Not only did we find that quite simply, WIXIW is such a beautiful looking word to us, but it is also a palindrome.  Palindromes derive their power from ending in the same way as which they begin.  Often times during the writing of WIXIW, Angus and I would be overwhelmed with doubt and anxiety.  It offered some comfort to us in accepting that to move forward, evolve, or finish a song- early techniques of ours could be applied without producing a song that felt like a regression.  Much like reading a palindrome, your eye movement is forward and you find yourself further along than you were before you began- all the while potentially reading the same letters the word began with. 

FR:  As for the WIXIX itself, the album is obviously a more heavily electronic-based   album.  What inspired you to take this new route for the new record?

AH: Sisterworld was recorded in a traditional way, where we had an engineer that knew how to place microphones or what compression to use, et cetera.  We wanted to circumvent this process and record the album ourselves, lessening the distance between us and the finished song or album- and quite literally, the mics from the sounds we are trying to capture.

FR:  How did the recording process compare to your previous albums?
AH:  We decided to open up our material earlier on to each other with earlier collaboration.  Normally, Angus and I would wait until songs we were working on were almost finished before inviting the other to add or subtract to the song.  It was much more difficult this way, but much more rewarding. 

FR: At first, the new album can feel a little disorienting and alienating to the listener.  WIXIW is a really committed work and you guys really drop us in the deep end right off the bat.  Do you guys ever feel that your music forces the listener to earn its eventual rewards- because after 5+ spins, what was once disorienting now feels downright warm and comforting.

AH:  I think we often feel that the music we are making is pretty straight forward.  I think this recalls the answer to question one.  Our music reads "wish you" to us, and for some listeners, it reads: "WIXIW".  Regardless, I think it means a lot to us if listeners find or reveal new sounds and take their time with the music.  We feel fortunate that anybody would take their time with us. 

FR:  How important to the band is it to continue to musically grow with each album?  And how often does "musically grow" involve experimenting?

AH:  I think it has more to do with following our guts with our hearts.  The difference being that the goal isn't always to make something different than the last album for the sake of it.  It's more natural.  And I don't think we would mind if we made, say, another electronic album after WIXIW so long as that's what we are genuinely interested in, and that we feel positive about the possibilities of making new discoveries within the approach.  So long as we don't feel we've exhausted the idea. 

FR: How do you think the WIXIW experience translates to the live circuit?
AH:  It's been really challenging.  It's almost like embarking on another album to get the live setup fully operational and working.  It's certainly exciting for us playing new songs and using new equipment that we're still trying to learn how to control.  I can't answer the question regarding how it translates, but I can say that we try to create an environment where mistakes and errors are welcome.  We like it when there is a difference between the live songs and the recordings.  I think from my experience in seeing bands with a similar hope, a live version can get you excited to listen to the recorded version again.  Certain instruments or sounds can come across more clearly or louder live, making some portions of the arrangements more clear to listeners.

FR:  Does Liars have a favorite place to play?

AH:  Anyway we're invited.  We're super excited to play for people.  It's always exciting to see a new city on our tour routes.  We're lucky to get to travel around the world with music.  It's so exciting when that new city pops up in the tour book, for example- Milwaukee!  We'd never played Wisconsin before and it was so amazing to be in a city brand new to us, and to play a city we haven't played before.

FR: Music now is available in a variety of formats.  You have digital downloads, CDs, vinyl of course, and even cassette tapes are making a modest comeback.  What is your favorite listening format for music and on which do you think Liars sounds best?

AH:  I like vinyl the best.  But I haven't had the chance in a long while to listen to records.  I really like the radio in the my car.  The best thing about having to drive everywhere in L.A. is I get to sing as loud as I want to whatever cheesy music I want to sing along to.  It makes the time pass in traffic, and it is so great to be able to respond to the music in any way I want and it's still somewhat of a private interaction with the music.  

FR: So the music scene has really gone sideways in the past ten years from Napster to iTunes to Spotify.  The way people listen to music has changed and we touched on that a bit already.  But where do you see the music scene going in the next ten years?

AH:  If I had to wager, I'd say YouTube will be taking over a lot of the computer music playing.  I think there will be more video content to go along with the album.  It's overwhelming to me.  I like to keep my music listening a bit more simple... old-fashioned I guess.  I still don't like making playlists too much and choose to listen to the artists by playing the full album.

FR: What are your thoughts on Lana Del Rey?
AH:  I just brought her up to Angus.  I like the single, is it called "Blue Jeans"?  Beyond that, I don't know too much about her.  I'm excited to hear what kind of album she'll do next.  It seems like she just... ooooooooooh thanks a lot for your time!

- Fr. Jones

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Dabbling in genres from noise rock to dance punk over the course of their six album career, Liars have managed to somehow subvert 21st century musical elitism through a sheer commitment to manic expression.  This form of constant reinvention may seem gimmicky or contrived at first glance- and, truthfully, Liars has spent the majority of their career tapdancing on the edge of novelty.  But more often than not, the band has imbued these eclectic moments with authentic sensibilities lending their diverse catalogue a sincere, organic feel.  Even at it’s most avant-garde, the experimentation rarely seems aimless.  When Liars feels like they have something to say, the diversity facilitates the expression- some would even call this “evolving”.

WIXIW is everything you would expect from an electro-rock Liars album.  Intimate, confounding, hollow, seductive- upon first listen, WIXIW is unapologetically frustrating.   No one has ever accused the trio of meeting their listeners halfway.  And with the exception of the powerful “No. 1 Against the Rush” and dancefloor ready “Brats”, Liars is continuing that trend here.   Just take a listen to the album’s namesake, “WIXIW”, a dizzying foray into synthetic chaos, as well as the equally unnerving “Octagon”.  The beats and rhythm avoid catchiness in favor of hypnotic complexity and discordant sounds, while Angus Andrews’ mystifying vocals often disregard traditional structure altogether.  However, perplexing sonic exercises aside, it can’t be denied how rich of an experience WIXIX ultimately is for those patient enough to remain with it.  This is indeed not Liars operating at their most accessible, but WIXIW undoubtedly stands as both the band’s most rewarding and cerebral work.  Navigating the sonic textures of WIXIW is never easy, but once you learn the path- it’s a journey that deserves repeating.  And that may be Liars’ greatest asset as artists- spinning initial confusion into quality.    

  - Fr. Jones

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Republicans refuse to fix the Election Commission

By Will Moredock
There are times when the S.C. General Assembly more closely resembles a criminal conspiracy than a legislative body. This is one of those times.
For two years, the Republican-controlled General Assembly has been obsessed with putting a Voter ID law on the books, and in 2011, they passed a law requiring voters in South Carolina to present a state-issued picture ID before casting a ballot. Republican Gov. Nikki Haley was delighted to sign it.
To hear Republicans tell it, the law was necessary to prevent voter fraud. However, they could not present any evidence. In fact, there is no record of any such crime having been committed in this state in decades. Yet that cold, hard fact did not stop the GOPers from ramming through the unnecessary law with undue haste.
The key to understanding the law is to understand that it would disenfranchise nearly 200,000 voters in South Carolina, mostly minorities, the elderly, and college students, three groups that tend to vote heavily for Democrats. This is the opinion of the state American Civil Liberties Union and the state League of Women Voters. It's also the opinion of the U.S. Justice Department, which blocked the law, saying it didn't meet the test under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which outlawed discriminatory voting practices.
S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson has vowed to fight the Justice Department to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary, and based on this state's history of defending lost causes, you can take the man at his word. So the only questions that remain are whether the case will be resolved in time for the November election and how much this act of futility will cost the taxpayers of South Carolina.
The irony — if you can call it that — is that South Carolina does have a very real problem with its voting system. I am talking about the touchscreen voting machines this state uses and the agency that is supposed to manage and maintain them, the State Elections Commission.
Following the 2010 elections, a group of citizens audited data from voting machines in 14 counties and found a number of problems. Here is a sample, provided by Frank Heindel, one of the citizen auditors:
Colleton County erroneously certified 1,389 more ballots than the number of people who actually voted. Richland County had 1,127 voters stand in line and cast their ballots, but their voting machines, along with their ballots, did not get counted. Orangeburg and Lancaster counties could not produce any electronic ballots or files from their elections.
"Imagine if we had paper ballots and counties could not produce any of them for an audit," Heindel told me in an e-mail. "This is exactly what is happening with our electronic ballots."
The audit also revealed that Charleston County could not produce over 20,000 ballots in their audit, Heindel said. These ballots are required by law to be kept for 22 months.
These problems with the vote collection in South Carolina have been cited in Scientific American magazine and presented at a national computer conference as evidence of what can go wrong with electronic voting machines. After these problems were exposed, the State Elections Commission developed the ability to perform these audits on their own.
To address problems with voting machines, the state Senate introduced and unanimously passed S. 1025, which would require the State Election Commission to do its job properly. That is, it would mandate a post-election audit by the commission, similar to what counties are required to do. The bill would also extend by two days the deadline for vote certification, allowing the SEC the necessary time to audit the voting results. The bill would not require any new equipment or expenditures. It would simply provide much needed transparency to our election process.
So where is S. 1025 now? A House version of the bill is locked up somewhere in the Judiciary Committee, where it is dying a slow death as the days tick down to the end of the legislative session.
"If we are serious about election integrity, we need to focus on where real problems exist today," Heindel wrote. "Based on the audits of independent computer scientists and the State Election Commission, there have been many documented failures with South Carolina's touchscreen voting system."
That the General Assembly would neglect the real and dangerous problems of our voting machines while at the same time addressing phantom fraud with a law that could disenfranchise nearly 200,000 legitimate voters borders on criminal incompetence.
Federal attorneys have ruled that the Voter ID law is illegal. Why can't it take action to make sure that our electoral auditing and certification procedures are transparent when evidence clearly demonstrates they are not?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dissecting Obama's Standard on Drone Strike Deaths

by Justin Elliott ProPublica 

In a lengthy front-page story last week exploring President Obama's use of drone strikes in countries including Pakistan and Yemen, the New York Times reported that the president had "embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in."
Citing "several administration officials," the Times reported that this method "in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants ... unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent." The Times reported that this standard allowed counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to claim in June 2011 that for nearly a year "there hasn't been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities that we've been able to develop."
Human rights groups and others have expressed outrage at the reported counting method. And in the last few days alone, 27 "suspected militants" have been killed in three drone strikes in Pakistan, including the reported No. 2 of al Qaeda.
We wanted to lay out exactly what's known (not much) about the apparent policy, what's not (a lot), and what the White House is saying in response to the Times report.
Crucially, the White House has done nothing to knock the story down. I gave the White House a chance to respond, and it declined to comment on the record. But speaking on condition of anonymity, an administration official acknowledged that the administration does not always know the names or identities of everyone in a location marked for a drone strike.
"As a general matter, it [the Times report] is not wrong that if a group of fighting age males are in a home where we know they are constructing explosives or plotting an attack, it's assumed that all of them are in on that effort," the official said. "We're talking about some of the most remote places in the world, and some of the most paranoid organizations on the planet. If you're there with them, they know you, they trust you, there's a reason [you're] there."
When we asked a White House spokesperson about how the U.S. knows even the number of people killed in strikes, they told us to speak the CIA. The CIA did not immediately respond to our request.
Another thing that's unclear is whether the controversial counting method is a new policy. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, told Fox News last week that he was not aware of any change in the policy of how corpses are counted, but that if there had been a change, his committee should be briefed.
Several people in the human rights community told ProPublica that the metric for counting civilians described in the Times report represents a new and troubling standard.
"We have never before heard anything quite like the idea that if you have to be in a certain place and you happen to be of a certain age, that in and of itself can make you targetable," said Gabor Rona, international legal director at Human Rights First and former legal adviser at the International Committee of the Red Cross.
It's also not clear whether the policy applies to all covert drone strikes or just ones done by the CIA.
Asked last week about the Times report, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters the president "goes to extraordinary measures" to avoid civilian casualties.
"We have at our disposal tools that make avoidance of civilian casualties much easier, and tools that make precision targeting possible in ways that have never existed in the past," Carney argued.
But analysts point out strikes can go awry even if a missile hits its programmed target.
"Any military official will tell you your precision is only as good as your intelligence sources and your intelligence analysis," said Naureen Shah, associate director of the Counterterrorism and Human Rights Project at Columbia Law School. "How much do we really know about Somalia and Yemen and Pakistan? We have errors in targeting in Afghanistan and we've been there for a decade."
Shah, who is working on a study on civilian harm from covert drone strikes, said she was not surprised by the Obama administration's reported standard for counting civilians given the extremely low estimates of civilian casualties leaked by administration officials over the years.
The Times story last week, for example, quotes a "senior administration official" claiming that the number of civilians killed by drone strikes under Obama in Pakistan is in the "single digits."
That's in stark contrast to outside estimates. Independent organizations analyzing news reports and other sources have put civilian deaths from drone strikes from the high double digits in Pakistan alone to the high triple digits including countries like Yemen and Somalia.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Republicans Vote to Block Transparency on Political Ads

by Justin Elliott ProPublica
The opponents of a new rule to post political ad information online have opened up another front in a long-running fight, inserting language into an appropriations bill that would bar the Federal Communications Commission from implementing the transparency measure.
The FCC voted in April to require television stations to put detailed data on political ad purchases online. The information, which includes who buys ads, for how much, and when they run, is currently open to the public but is available only on paper at individual stations. Media companies have lobbied hard against the rule, and the National Association of Broadcasters recently sued in federal court to stop it. The rule is currently under review by the government and will not go into effect until July at the earliest.
Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., chair of the financial services and general government subcommittee of the House appropriations committee, added language to an appropriations bill ordering that no funds to be used to implement the disclosure rule. The bill, which passed the subcommittee Wednesday, funds the FCC and other agencies for fiscal year 2013.
The move by Emerson adds another question mark to the process of creating an FCC website with political ad data. At a subcommittee hearing Wednesday, a Democratic amendment to remove the Emerson language was defeated on a party line vote.
"I suspect there will be a big fight in committee and on the floor," Rep. José Serrano, D-N.Y., who led the Democratic effort to defeat the language, told ProPublica.
He added that Democrats will try again to strip the Emerson language when the full appropriations committee considers the bill, which may happen in the next couple weeks.
"When there's a campaign going on with the kind of money that is being spent today," Serrano said, "you as a citizen should have the right to know who is paying [for ads]."
Even if the measure to block the FCC from funding the political ad rule passes the House, it still has to get through the Democrat-controlled Senate and be signed by President Obama, whose administration has supported the transparency rule.
A spokesperson for Emerson did not respond to a request for comment. At a hearing in March, Emerson grilled FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski about the then-proposal.
"Why do you care about this?" the congresswoman asked Genachowski. "You have plenty of other things that are far more important to deal with since we already have a Federal Election Commission who has jurisdiction over campaign finance. ... Why in the world is this a big priority?"
At the hearing Wednesday, Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, joined other Republicans in arguing that the new rule would be overly burdensome for stations.
Since 2010, the National Association of Broadcasters Political Action Committee has donated $7,000 to Emerson's campaigns. Emerson's home state of Missouri is expected to be a swing state in 2012, meaning it will see a huge infusion of political ad spending.
Both the broadcasters association and the FCC declined to comment on the new appropriations language.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Five ‘Stand Your Ground' Cases You Should Know About

by Suevon Lee, ProPublica
The Stand Your Ground law is most widely associated with the Feb. 26 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old killed in Florida by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain who claimed he was acting in self-defense.
But as a recent Tampa Bay Times investigation indicates, the Martin incident is far from the only example of the law's reach in Florida. The paper identified nearly 200 instances since 2005 where the state's Stand Your Ground law has played a factor in prosecutors' decisions, jury acquittals or a judge's call to throw out the charges. (Not all the cases involved killings. Some involved assaults where the person didn't die.)
The law removes a person's duty to retreat before using deadly force against another in any place he has the legal right to be – so long as he reasonably believed he or someone else faced imminent death or great bodily harm. Among the Stand Your Ground cases identified by the paper, defendants went free nearly 70 percent of the time.
Although Florida was the first to enact a Stand Your Ground law, 24 other states enforce similar versions. Using the Tampa Bay findings and others, we've highlighted some of the most notable cases where a version of the Stand Your Ground law has led to freedom from criminal prosecution:
· In November 2007, a Houston-area man pulled out a shotgun and killed two men whom he suspected of burglarizing his neighbor's home. Joe Horn, a 61-year-old retiree, called 911 and urged the operator to " ‘Catch these guys, will you? Cause, I ain't going to let them go.' " Despite being warned to remain inside his home, Horn stated he would shoot, telling the operator, " ‘I have a right to protect myself too, sir. The laws have been changed in this country since September the first, and you know it.' "
Two months earlier, the Texas Legislature passed a Stand Your Ground law removing a citizen's duty to retreat while in public places before using deadly force. In July 2008, a Harris County grand jury declined to indict Horn of any criminal charges.
· In Louisiana early this year, a grand jury cleared 21-year-old Byron Thomas after he fired into an SUV filled with teenagers after an alleged marijuana transaction went sour. One of the bullets struck and killed 15-year-old Jamonta Miles. Although the SUV was allegedly driving away when Thomas opened fire, Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre said to local media that as far as Thomas knew, someone could have jumped out of the vehicle with a gun. Thomas, said the sheriff, had "decided to stand his ground."
Louisiana's Stand Your Ground law was enacted just a year after Florida introduced its law.
· In March 2012, Bo Morrison was shot and killed by a homeowner in Wisconsin who discovered the unarmed 20-year-old on his porch early one morning. According to friends, Morrison was trying to evade police responding to a noise complaint at a neighboring underage drinking party. The homeowner, thinking Morrison was a burglar, was not charged by the local district attorney.
While Wisconsin doesn't have a Stand Your Ground law that extends to public spaces, Gov. Scott Walker signed an "intruders bill" in December 2011 that presumes somebody who uses deadly force against a trespasser in their home, business or vehicle acted reasonably, whether or not the intruder was armed. Before the law was enacted, homeowners could only use deadly force if their own lives were at risk.
· In April, 22-year-old Cordell Jude shot and killed Daniel Adkins Jr., a pedestrian who walked in front of Jude's car just as Jude was pulling up to the window of a Taco Bell drive-thru in Arizona. Jude claimed Adkins had waved his arms in the air, wielding what Judge thought was a metal pipe – it was actually a dog leash. Jude shot the 29-year-old Adkins, who was mentally disabled, once in the chest. As of May, an arrest had not been made in the April 3 shooting. Arizona passed a Stand Your Ground law in 2010.
· In January, a judge in Miami tossed out a second-degree murder charge against Greyston Garcia after he chased a suspected burglar for more than a block and stabbed him to death. The judge decided the stabbing was justified because the burglar had swung a bag of stolen car radios at Garcia – an object that a medical examiner at a hearing testified could cause "serious harm or death." The judge found Garcia was "well within his rights to pursue the victim and demand the return of his property."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Battles- Dross Glop REVIEW

Innovation has always been one of Battles’ strong suits.  While 2007’s Mirrored showcased their propensity for skillfully blending noise and melody, last year’s Gloss Drop proved that the band was still able to muster the best of their creative forces after the departure of vocalist/guitarist Tyondai Braxton in 2010.  With such a long wait in between their first two full lengths, it came as a nice surprise to learn that the band was releasing a remix album, Dross Glop(a clever spoonerism of the original album's title).  Further adding to my delight was the fact that artists including Shabazz Palaces, Gang Gang Dance, and Hudson Mohawke would be lending their talents to the mix.  

Despite the hype and expectations of a creative tour de force, however, Dross Glop falls disappointingly short of its potential.  The pacing is odd, the songs don’t flow well together, and even the more alluring tracks begin to drone on without much variety to keep the listener’s attention.  Don’t get me wrong – there are moments of beauty here, such as Qluster’s seductive re-imagination of the synth and percussion on “Dominican Fade,” and the chilling urgency of Gui Boratti’s “Wall Street” once it finally picks up.  For the most part, though, the album zig-zags through disjointed alleys of sound, like your 80 year-old grandmother trying to ride a Harley-Davidson for the first time.  And we all know how that turns out. 

For a remix album, there’s a lot of space, both sonically and metaphorically.  The Alchemist’s version of “Futura” sounds like it could have easily been featured on a sci-fi movie soundtrack and Patrick Mahoney and Dennis McNany’s remix of “My Machines” feels like the perfect music for a futuristic alien dance party.  But on the whole, where Gloss Drop shimmered, its successor sounds lackluster.  Instead of an elegant re-construction, the songs on Dross Glop come across more like an unnecessary renovation, as they attempt to repair and paint over areas where the original never needed a fix-up in the first place.  Long story short, there’s really not much value added and it’s probably not worth the asking price.  Although the idea and the effort behind this record are praise worthy, Dross Glop’s shortcomings serve as a testament to the oldest cliché in the book: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  

- Bobby