12:36 PM EDT, July 30, 2012
3 stars (out of 4)
“I'm changing so fast you can’t keep up,” Dhani Harrison declares on “thefearofmissingout” (Vagrant), the second studio album by thenewno2 (pronounced “The new Number Two,” in homage to a character from the short-lived cult TV series “The Prisoner”). The declaration sets the tone for an album about anxious times, and the music is appropriately fidgety and restless, a beehive of sound that almost subliminally coalesces into songs.
Harrison, the son of the late Beatles guitarist George Harrison, doesn’t ride dad’s coattails in what has been a highly individual career as a musician and songwriter. His quintet uses the studio as an instrument; guitars and keyboards don’t sound quite like themselves, but more like alien creations that cough, sputter, purr and disintegrate before our ears. It’s avant-rock that bleeds into the more rarefied edges of progressive electronic music. In this anything-goes environment, a guest vocal from theWu-Tang Clan’s RZA hardly sounds out of place on “The Wait Around.”
Harrison’s conversational voice folds into the soundscapes like another instrument. If anything, the sole issue is the self-effacing nature of it all. “thefearofmissingout” makes for an excellent, extended mood piece, but its distinguishing moments and alluring melodies are almost too subtle for their own good.
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