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CD Review: Adem




The Deal: Yet another covers record ...

The Good: It seems, these days, every musician has in their contract – the one signed in blood at Robert Johnson's crossroads – a covers-record requirement. With the surprise factor vanquished forever, the only intrigue left is who the artist aligns themselves with in their choice of covers, and whether their versions are worthy foils for the originals. Adem, the British synth-folkie and former bass player for the cut-and-paste trio Fridge, limits his choices to what he calls his "formative years," 1991 to 2001. His friendly, wood-cured voice is a natural fit for gentler cuts like Bedhead's b-side single "Bedside Table" and Yo La Tengo's "Tears Are In Your Eyes," the Georgia Hubley-sung track one of several wise decisions to cover female singers. Adem also opts for drum kit-free arrangements that rely on double-bass, harmonium, grand piano, glockenspiel and various acoustic stringed instruments to create rich organic textures that work best when they contrast strongly with the originals, such as PJ Harvey's "Oh My Lover" and the Aphex Twin medley of "To Cure a Weakling Child" and "Boy/Girl Song."

The Bad: If most of Adem's reinterpretations hit the mark, a few are either unimaginative – he adds nothing to Pinback's "Loro" or dEUS' "Hotellounge (Be the Death of Me)" – or smothered by baroque embellishments, most egregiously when he turns the spacey loneliness of Lisa Germano's "Slide" into audio Splenda.

The Verdict: Adem's never rocked anybody's socks off, and his solo work is the embodiment of chill-out music; his choice of covers either reflects that directly or through his reinterpretations. If you can hang with that, Takes is a pleasant enough way to spend 50 minutes of your day.

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