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Wednesday, June 4, 2003




Since No Wave was never a genre in the first place, it's strange that 1980s New York acts like Lydia Lunch and James White & the Blacks are now being feted as the progenitors of a movement. "Movements" imply direction and development, in which case San Francisco's Deerhoof could be considered a milestone, or even the ultimate realization of whatever it was that No Wave was supposed to accomplish.

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Formed in 1994 as an experimental noise band, Deerhoof has evolved through several personnel changes into a quirky rock group whose free-form compositions sound a lot like pop. The drumming of Greg Saunier (the only original member left) is distinctive and often nonlinear, and John Dieterich's barrage of guitar effects gives the impression he's 10 different people. But it's the vocals of bassist Satomi Matsuzaki that lend the band its singular character. Her anime-quality falsetto, though used sparingly, enriches the music both sonically and thematically. Deerhoof's latest release, "Apple O'," is a concept album about the birth of love, and whatever sexual meaning you derive from titles like "Adam + Eve Connection" and "The Forbidden Fruits," Matsuzaki's hyperinnocent warblings put them in a whole different context.

Less interested in singing lyrics than in vocally deconstructing them, Matsuzaki can convey a myriad of implications in a word like "flower" by exploring every syllabic permutation ("flah-oo-wah"). The mood can be childish, but the arrangements are complex and the playing extremely sophisticated. And if some critics have heard shades of free jazz and the No Wave racket of Arto Lindsay in Deerhoof's wacky melange, I'm more apt to hear Brill Building melodies or the classical-tinged folk rock that dominated the Top 40 in the '60s. Whatever you demand from music, Deerhoof probably has it.

Deerhoof, opening for The Folk Implosion: June 9, 7 p.m., Shibuya Nest, 3,300 yen; June 10, 7 p.m., Nagoya Tokuzo, 3,000 yen; June 11, 7:30 p.m., Umeda Club Dawn, Osaka, 3,000 yen. Call Map, (03) 5712-3628. Headlining: June 14, 6:30 p.m., Shinjuku Club Marz, (03) 3202-8248, 2,800 yen; June 15, 6:30 p.m., Shimokitazawa Era, (03) 5465-6568, 2,800 yen. All ticket prices advance. Prices slightly higher at the door.

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