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Let Me Explain Something to You About Art

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Album Review

Released as part of Tzadik Records' Radical Jewish Culture Series, Kramer's Let Me Explain Something to You About Art is reminiscent of some of his best work with Bongwater. It combines intriguing spoken work bits with looped hand-drum samples, accordion, violin, and viola lingering in the background. Unlike the famed Bongwater album Double Bummer, however, Let Me Explain Something to You About Art replaces flip irony and a variety of subjects with recordings of two elderly American Jews speaking about their lives. Kramer's musical stylings remain, but this project has a little less humor and a little more philosophical heft. The music acts as mood-setting background, which is disappointing at times because Kramer has been known for pieces with more complexity in the past. What this allows, though, is a shift of focus to the content of the spoken work pieces. The people featured on the album talk about the tragedies and triumphs of their lives. Their quotes are a combination of answers to questions posed inaudibly, and the constructed repetition of certain phrases is inserted to make certain points. The pieces are edited to begin and end rather abruptly, and several phrases are repeated again and again, as a tape rewound and replayed. The effect is like a thought that you can't quite shake long after you've heard it.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Best known as the in-house producer and proprietor of the Shimmy-Disc label, Kramer (first name Mark) has also had an extensive career as a musician, mostly with other bands or collaborators, but occasionally solo as well. Born in 1958, Kramer initially chose film school as his creative path, but wound up dropping out twice; instead, he worked as a sound engineer for several late-'70s New York bands and eventually joined the band that became Eugene Chadbourne's Shockabilly as a bass player and sometime...
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Let Me Explain Something to You About Art, Kramer
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