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Various Artists Plague Songs

Plague Songs-an accompaniment to filmmaker Penny Woolcott's modern-day evocation of the book of Exodus-succeeds on many levels. As a suite of songs by artists from the legendary (Brian Eno, Scott Walker) to the merely brilliant (King Creosote), the 10 tracks, each corresponding to one of the plagues beset by God upon Egypt, are near perfect. From London gypsy cabaret freaks Tiger Lilies' drug-addled take on "Hailstones" to Stephin Merritt's Human League-esque dance party "The Meaning of Lice," each artist's approach is unique and often frightening. But more importantly, Plague Songs does for contemporary art-music what the plagues did for the Israelites: It provides the right setting for the system to be vigorously bucked, allowing everyone from grime MCs (Klashnekoff and his stuttering "Blood") to milquetoast singer-songwriters (Rufus Wainwright) to set their creative energies free.

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