Saturday, November 22, 2008

ALBUM: A Take on Takes

There are just some artists that you know you can always turn to. Like lying down under the warm bars of sunlight beaming in through the blinds on a Sunday morning, they'll just always make me feel warm inside, like everything's right with the world. Adem (pronounced AH-dem) is one of those artists for me.

On his third and latest album, Takes, the British songwriter turns his attention from his own original songs and instead takes a stab at several covers - specifically, ones ranging from 1991 to 2001, what Adem calls "pretty formative years" for him. Getting the treatment are groups like Yo La Tengo, Smashing Pumpkins, Björk, and even Aphex Twin - all the songs are pretty, but what is so remarkable is that even with the songs covered spanning several genres and styles, Adem deftly takes them and makes them his own. The result is a surprisingly cohesive covers record that fits quite nicely into Adem's burgeoning catalog. Some of these songs don't stray far from the original (see Pinback's beautiful Loro), but others have been completely re-imagined and rearranged to become almost as much an Adem original as a cover. My favorite example is his melding of two Aphex Twin's songs, To Cure a Weakling Child and Boy/Girl Song, to create an acoustic ballad of hypnotic proportions - one that you'd never guess was a cover at all, much less a cover of one of the preeminent ambient/electronica artists of the 90's. The song is simply beautiful.

But no discussion of Adem would be complete without mentioning his kind and sincere manner, or his love for music in general. So to finish I'll leave you with a bit of Adem's own introduction to the album, included in the liner notes:

"Making a covers record is like making a mixtape - how much time, love, effort and heartache is invested in side A alone? How to go about selecting the right message, the right combination, the new, the old, and the breadth of music? It's a chance to show your influences and give people an idea of where your taste comes from. I've tried to ignore entire genres and decades of music that should be on here; it's just a glimpse - I hope you enjoy the view."

Adem - To Cure A Weakling Child + Boy/Girl Song (by Aphex Twin)
from the album Takes (Amazon/iTunes)

Adem - Hotellounge (by dEUS)
from the album Takes (Amazon/iTunes)

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