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In Rotation: Micachu and the Shapes' 'Chopped and Screwed'

A series in Sunday Calendar about what we're listening to right now...

Micachu England’s Micachu and the Shapes released “Jewellry” in 2009, an album of experimental pop rooted in equal measures classical minimalism and hip-hop’s percussive drive. The latest effort from the three-piece led by Mica Levi finds them exploring all those influences again in a live recorded performance with the London Sinfonietta. “Chopped and Screwed” is named for a style of Houston hip-hop developed by DJ Screw that slows down songs until they resemble dripping, hallucinatory ghosts of themselves. The nine songs here don’t sound like the result of too much codeine syrup (DJ Screw’s favorite elixir), but they do have a spectral quality, appearing like apparitions with rhythms that are there one minute and vanish the next. Levi’s voice often sounds hypnotized yet forceful, as she wends her way through compositions that shiver and quake with a range of both traditional instruments and homemade noisemakers. “Low Dogg” is one of the best tracks: Against a backdrop of guttural cello and nervous, high-strung violin, Levi sings a haunting line, “Even if I turn my back, you twist my neck until I snap.”

-- Margaret Wappler

Micachu and the Shapes
“Chopped and Screwed”
(Rough Trade Records)

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