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Sunday, September 21, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 56.0° F  Overcast
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Icy Demons
Miami Ice (Obey Your Brain)

With members of Man Man, Tortoise guitarist Jeff Parker and cellist Tomeka Reid all contributing to the loop-de-loop of sound that is Miami Ice, it's a fair bet that anyone with a taste for Zappa, the Residents and the more wacked out end of the jazz-fusion spectrum will have an interest in Icy Demons' output. With those kinds of players in the house, you can expect plenty of aural oddities, and yet some of the most compelling music here is the simplest. The brief electronic interpretation of shakuhachi flute that defines the woof and warp of "Who There???" is so pure, so lovely that it's hard to believe the same act that produced the multi-layered rhythm thing "Buffalo Bill" was also responsible for it.

But it was, and that's part of what's so exciting about Icy Demons: They don't give a fig about confounding expectations. Now, not everything here is brilliant. "Centurions" is an obvious, not especially imaginative Kraftwerk knock-off, and despite a couple of herky-jerky rhythm breaks, the uniformly pleasant "Summer Samba" comes off as by-the-numbers Brazilian revivalism. But every two or three tunes, Icy Demons bust out with creative statements that make you overlook the filler. To wit: "Jantar Mantar" ripples in a warm, subcontinental current of oblique guitars and clattering drumsticks; "Spycatchers" is a breathless roller-coaster ride through prog synchronicity; and the brisk, poppy title track celebrates beachside bliss with a distorted keyboard hook and impossibly sweet vocal harmonies that linger in the ear long after the track has gone silent.

Sadly, Icy Demons won't be making Madison part of their summer swing, but at least we have access to this lulling document of their contemporary adventures in the fun zone.

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