Shaken, Not Stirred

En Garde (Initial Records)

Criteria

By David Lilly

This CD is a blessing for folks who have an unusual sense of rhythm. It seems the criteria for the music here was to record each instrument separately with each musician playing whatever they wanted to play, not knowing what the others were playing and then "pasting" the recordings together to make songs. That might explain why a lot of this stuff sounds like the vocals, drums and guitars, though singing and playing in the same songs, are not playing together. To those who don't know me, that might sound like a complaint but it's just my observation and besides, for those with flawless rhythm, there are a couple of oddball songs here in which all is well and somewhat traditionally synchronized.

That theory of segregation "might" explain the contents here, except that most of this music is performed by one guy; Mr. Stephen Pedersen. Knowing that Pedersen used to play in The White Octave, whose Menergy featured oh, maybe 10 to 12 tempo - and sometimes melody - changes per song, En Garde's discordance is no surprise. It's also no surprise that I dig it and think you should hear it, nor is it a surprise that I belong to the Society for Weird Tastes in Music.

Another side of this music is that the more you hear it - although the tempos remain bizarre - the more harmonious it sounds. At least that's so with "The Coincidence." The tempo is definitely quirky, but it makes sense if you listen to it sideways and it sure rocks. A few songs later, "Talk in a Crowded Room" is too short, but its tempo is just as quirky and enjoyable as that of its three predecessors. Later still, "Me on Your Front Porch" continues the bizarre tempo trend and I've come to realize that you can take the first paragraph of this review figuratively. Why? Well, I think the drugs have taken effect, as all these songs no longer seem as discordant as they did during my first three listens. This is an album of rhythms of acquired taste; unusual though it is, it is well worth your time and money. Don't even ask me about the lyrics; don't know and don't care, though Pedersen's voice and singing are pleasing ... in a quirky sort of way.

To visit Pedersen at home, go to Omaha, Nebraska simply by clicking

www.criteriamusicnews.net/criteria.html

or visit the Louisville-based record label that brought you this fine piece of work by clicking

www.initialrecords.com

. Remember that Christmas is coming and this CD would make great gifts for the weird-music lovers in your life.