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Hecuba Paradise

At least no one can accuse Hecuba of not striving for greatness. The debut album from this artsy Los Angeles duo certainly sounds important, but it doesn't take long to realize that Paradise doesn't pack a whole lot of punch. Constructed on a skeleton of sparse synth pop, the album is full of dramatic pauses and sonic white space, but even the inclusion of en español lyrics ("La Musica"), sleazy saxophone ("The Magic"), or a tweaked vocal choir ("Extra Connection") fail to lend the music any real weight. The modern doo-wop of "Suffering" and the stop-and-start pop of "Tom & Jerry" are welcome respites from the pretentious preening, but when it comes to Paradise, there's simply not much there.

25 comments Paradise

fish wallet (not verified) Wrote

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 09:36

This record is actually amazing...perhaps a tad too sophisticated for someone who gave CSS a good review. Hecuba are the sound of the future...and there are many other amazing artists whom agree with me. Bat for Lashes Devendra Banhart to name a few...

sister pants (not verified) Wrote

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 09:37

HECUBA rules! okay?

KARMEN (not verified) Wrote

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 09:38

This review is pretty silly. Did you even listen to this record. Incredible. Go Hecuba, Go!

Mercury News (not verified) Wrote

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 09:39

Saw these guys with Bat for Lashes in SF. They arocked da house bitches!

ELECTO-mang (not verified) Wrote

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 09:40

HECUBA HECUBA HECUBA HECUBA HECUBA.....what a stupid review. Paradiso!

Anonymous (not verified) Wrote

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 09:41

hello there Hecuba! did you eat all of your lunch today?

kitty bang David (not verified) Wrote

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 09:42

no one can kling-klang like hecuba

Butter Fingerz (not verified) Wrote

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 09:44

PARADISE just downloaded it at my office. Some great tunes on here. Interested in hearing more from these guys.

Anonymous (not verified) Wrote

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 09:47


crazynamesgocrazy (not verified) Wrote

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 09:48


Anonymous (not verified) Wrote

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 09:49

cool tricks

Anonymous (not verified) Wrote

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 09:52

we're counting cards

Mikey Abrahms (not verified) Wrote

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 10:29

this is wack!

Anonymous (not verified) Wrote

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 10:30

yall need to go back to school and learn to spell.

LA RECORD (not verified) Wrote

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 10:31

Have you heard much post-minimalism by Philip Glass? It’s all separation and dissection, one moment in time isolated and distributed across space. A premise gets broken into its simplest parts. (Check out David Ives’ play, Philip Glass Buys A Loaf Of Bread.) An occurrence becomes a sentence then dissolves into syllables, and inherently breaks further still, until we arrive at the absolute of precision: beats. Glass would love Hecuba’s debut album Paradise. He’d want to slice it into a million pieces and decorate a tree with it. He’d say Isabelle Albuquerque was a great rapper because she extends a natural line across time, plucking each word out and re-emphasizing its constellation.

Often, a great piece of art makes you think about something totally abstract—and hopefully go overboard—allowing you to impose a grand scheme of meaning on its surface. Let’s say, on Paradise, love and music are the equivalents of space and time. These forces push and pull the universe every which way, making some parts spiked and other parts round. The music concerns love. Love is a siren passing by that—instead of making you pull over—you must mimic until it goes out of reach.

Hecuba does not imitate sounds of nature, but resembles sounds natural to the world: ambulance sirens, a tornado of leaves, clanging metal car ornaments dangling off a rearview mirror—these are the basic building blocks of track three, “Miles Away.” With these sounds, Albuquerque and partner Jon Beasley explore love triangles on Paradise, more or less between two people, “he” and “she” (or “Tom” and “Jerry”), otherwise between person and music. Triangles appear because a third force, perhaps circumstance, enables one thing to seduce or obsess the other. The beats are relentless palpitations, a heart rubbed with crushed espresso and vitamin C then tossed on a Bar-B-Q to hiss and writhe.

The conceptual world of Paradise abides by certain parameters. Love and music are no longer inanimate objects, but breathe and walk, dance or mostly flail wildly while wearing spandex bodysuits. Paradise’s Man has left Woman for a brass horn blaring on the dance floor, and she sets about getting him back over the course of the album, trying different approaches. The obstacle is most clearly examined in “La Musica.” Woman’s lover is trapped. He can’t stop dancing. She politely asks the DJ to return her man. In “Extra Connection,” she appeals directly to her possessed lover, assuring him she knows what’s up because she’s got the fever even worse than he does—something Albuquerque growls like a Southern belle.

“Tom & Jerry” resembles a theatrical aside. Lights dim on the action (freezing dancer-boy mid-mashed potato) as his woman, getting fed up, likens their love to a game of cat and mouse. “You got me hanging like a chandelier, catching the light with a crystal tear / You got me living in the living room, you got me dining in the dining room, but the last supper was ate, uh huh.”—A plea for emancipation emphasized by flapping wings: “Freedom’s ahead…”

The short ditty “Everything” isolates Beasley on the mic. Our possessed dancer slowly regains consciousness and begins mumbling lessons learned in his hypnotized dance state. “Suffering” brings clarity, and is the most accessible pop track on the album—a sing along about how everybody, including Jimmy, Jackie, Jamie, Marlon and Maggie, gets hurt when love falls apart. “The Magic” swaggers and shimmers more brightly than anything since the late-70s to mid-80s, when music was allowed to dance and be beautiful and witchy. Perhaps that’s where Kate Bush references come in. Think of “Heads We’re Dancing” off Bush’s Hounds of Love: a woman stays up all night dancing with a dashing stranger who in the morning turns out to be Hitler.

In “The Magic,” Iz spits game at her nightingale—“You got the magic, baby”—but her vocals pass through a digitizer, breaking Albuquerque’s steady whisper into watery octaves. Nightingale means “night songstress,” named 1,000 years ago because after sunset, birdy breaks into song. Later we learned it’s actually the male, not the female, who is responsible for the species’ characteristic trills. Which brings us to Beasley-gale, the man behind the music station wearing a tank top, dancing feverishly in his seat with his lips pressed against the microphone. Beasley explores the many intonations of his husky sigh: “uh,” “ah,” “hoo,” etc, layering these with blips, gurgles, keys and horns. In the studio, Beasley pushed the limits of every sound’s production, in some cases collaborating with avant-futuristic producer/drummer Butchy Fuego. Each minute detail moving from foreground to background is as precise as glass. In fact, Philip Glass would say Paradise is a great hip-hop album.

Anonymous (not verified) Wrote

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 10:32

AUGUST needs to be bumrushed!!!

Anonymous (not verified) Wrote

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 11:10

Did you listen to this record???????

Boneski (not verified) Wrote

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 12:49

yeah, i couldn't disagree more with the review. dude is entitled to his opinion but one of the laziest reviews of Hecuba yet. its cool XLR8R, whatever, can keep shoving Vivian Girls and the indie poop they keep writing about down our throat and we'll just stop paying attention.

David B. (not verified) Wrote

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 14:31

Hecuba = pretentious bullshit

Anonymous (not verified) Wrote

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 15:30

hecuba is one of the most influential bands of our time...to bad xlr8r doesn't get it..xlr8r is going down hill i guess

dirty chaps (not verified) Wrote

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 17:58

pretentious bullshit= awesome!!!

Anonymous (not verified) Wrote

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 18:00

XLR8R is going downhill

Anonymous (not verified) Wrote

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 20:21

BULLSHIT! Hecuba are living Gods!!!!

LoveLover (not verified) Wrote

Sat, 06/20/2009 - 11:09

pretty good

PimpleZoo (not verified) Wrote

Sun, 06/21/2009 - 15:15

this is bullshit. Hecuba are far better than anything else going on this week.

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