February 4, 2010


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Dan Black, ((un))
Polydor/The Hours Records, Feb. 16

If you owned a computer in 2008, chances are you tripped over one or several gushing reviews of “Hypntz,” Dan Black’s stunning Frankenstein-ation of Rihanna’s “Umbrella’ and Biggie’s “Hypnotize.” Such a huge single it was that his debut LP was expected to propel him into whatever passes for superstardom these days, but Biggie’s estate nixed any further use of the samples, leaving “Hypntz” stripped down and remade as the (understandably) bummed-out “Symphonies” that appears here, Black handling the vocal about as well as someone with an ability to karaoke Blink-182 could pull off — think Jim Carrey doing Third Eye Blind’s “Jumper” in Yes Man and that’s about the size of it. It’s funny: possessed of lofty electronic orchestration (borrowed from John Carpenter) and a lawsuit in its history and not much else, the song makes Black sort of this generation’s Verve circa “Bitter Sweet Symphony,” doesn’t it? But besides that — and all the polite, micro-managed, super-perfect chaff fit for a big-time Judd Apatow sci-fi movie, if Apatow did sci-fi — there are some gluey entries, the slick, soon-to-be-remixed-by-everyone “Yours” for one, and “Wonder” (what Smashing Pumpkins might sound like doing breakbeat-chill) for two. BEric W. Saeger