December 03, 2005

Various Artists "Dimension Mix"

Bruce Haack was an odd fellow. He made music in his living room, and it wasn't just any kind of was magical music. Some of it could be considered children's music, but Haack was much more interested in capturing the innocence of youth and the joy of innocence in song. He had a psychology degree, and he was interested in the role music played in the development of a child's mind. That he did so at a time when the music world was undergoing radical technological advances and sonic experimentation made his music even more interesting. That he lived and died in obscurity is sad.

It's no surprise, then, that his recorded work influenced a younger generation. While he might not necessarily be a well-known influence, for those more offbeat artists, Haack was a fascinating and fun little secret. A thank-you should go out to the bright spark who decided on the idea of a tribute record to Haack should also serve as a benefit record for autistic children, a cause dear to Haack's heart. As Haack is extremely obscure, there's probably little chance you know any of the original versions of these songs. (A companion disc of the originals a la The Late, Great Daniel Johnston would be REALLY nice, Santa!)

As such, it's best to simply listen to these songs with the artist's own styles in mind; surprisingly, several of these songs--especially offerings from Stereolab, Beck, The Danielson Famile, DJ Me DJ You, and Fantastic Plastic Machine sound like original compositions. Personal favorites include Irving's "Army Ants In Your Pants" and Eels' silly Middle Eastern kids-song "Jelly Dancer." Of course, there's a few unknowns, like The Stones Throw Singers' amazing "Rain of Earth," and Brother Cleve's "School 4 Robots," which are quite fascinating..

Quirky, fun music by an eccentric personality for a good cause? Sounds like fun! Dimension Mix is a great, unique little tribute.

--Joseph Kyle

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