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Album Review

Lance De Sardi, aka Land Shark, has a slew of singles and a double mix CD to his name, but this eponymous set is the first album dedicated to his own music. Within he introduces himself on the opening "Le Shark," a tongue-in-cheek adaptation of the signature shark sound from Jaws. It's pretty obvious that listeners are not meant to take everything that follows too seriously — which is just as well, because otherwise the first half of the set might leave those with fainter hearts gasping for breath. "Dangerous," for example, is precisely that, as De Sardi takes on the disembodied, breathy voice of a stalker or a vaguely threatening obscene phone caller. It's enough to give one the shivers. With its martial beats, funky sonic assaults, and militant aura, the intriguingly titled "Indecent" might suggest an antiwar political stance or it could be the sadism accompanying "Shake Me"'s corresponding masochism. So the latter number's lyrics suggest, this time delivered over an almost industrial backing. "Forces," in contrast, seems to be delivered by Satan himself, or at least a drill sergeant from hell, its commandments growled out over a doom-laden gothic background. It's at this point that Land Shark draws back from the abyss, twisting back toward a more comforting house groove, although not many dance fans will succumb to De Sardi's sick seduction on "Tie Me Up." The music, on the other hand, all down and dirty house, will send the dancefloor into spasms of delight.

"Riot" adds even more funk to the mix and a touch of industrial to further dirty up the sound, and by the time one gets to the uncomfortably catchy "Fear (& Loathing)," it all begins to feel like an adulterous dirty good, at least before the guilt kicks in. Which is where De Sardi pulls it back from the brink again, with the reggae-goes-house of "Can You Relate," tossing in a bit of creaky guitar à la the Pop Group to give the track an even more authentic, dubbed-out feel. "Slippage" takes the album out on a high, with a rhythm-driven number that twists and turns through styles, house-based but with synths that slide back toward early Depeche Mode and into toy town, before slipping back around into modern house. It's one hell of a ride, pulling house down into dark alleys it usually avoids, but De Sardi's careful never to take it too far, carefully balancing the set's sharp, dark edges with enough hypnotic rhythms and slick house styling to carry even the most trepidation-filled listener along the way. In that respect, he follows in the footsteps of another electronic act, Soft Cell, who took new wave on a similar journey on their debut Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret album. They were richly rewarded for their adventurousness; one hopes De Sardi will be as well.

Landshark, LandShark
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