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The Free Design

The Now Sound Revisited

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The Free Design
The Now Sound Revisited
Light in the attic
Falling somewhere between tribute and blender, this album features an astounding array of artists exulting in the legacy of a band you likely never heard of. The Free Design (basically the Dedrick family band) played sophisticated breezy pop 35 years ago a la Beach Boys or Spanky and Our Gang, except they never had a hit. A cult grew, rare vinyl spurred re-releases and now this, a baker’s dozen of tracks with almost as many approaches by 21 artists. The Stereolab and High Llamas collaboration, “The Harve Daley Mix,” may be most satisfying for listeners still in the throes of “Who are these people?” by devising new hooks from snippets of six different Free Design songs. Due to unfamiliarity with the originals, discerning where rejigging begins and ends is not always that easy, which may be part of the charm. Perhaps the truest, most loving treatment is rendered by Sarah Shannon, who beds the original harmony vocals beneath her own on “I Found Love,” while Styrofoam gives the rhythm a forceful revamping. Kid Koala’s “An Elegy,” written for a family member who died in Vietnam, may leave you pondering how appropriate scratching is on a funereal piece, but it oddly works, as disjointed as grief itself. Inclusion of brief passages untouched by remix save the disc from feeling like plunder of the unknown, and instead an intriguing work of archeology that funks you up.
—Doug Taylor
categories: Coast pick

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