Flying Lizards 

Fourth Wall

David Cunningham is a strange duck (and that's meant in the most praiseworthy way) — he is an academic, audio-visual artist (installations), record producer, and self-taught maker of music. (Referring to a recorded collaboration with two musicians, "I was a liability who couldn't play the same thing twice unless it was a tape loop," Cunningham said.) His iconic success story remains the 1979 hit rendition of the Motown standard "Money" performed as the Flying Lizards. (For younger listeners, this version was in the movies Charlie's Angels and The Wedding Singer.) Fourth Wall is the Flying Lizards' (basically Cunningham and whomever he assembles) second platter from '81 and long unavailable till now.

While original Lizards' singer Deborah Stickland is absent, Patti Palladin (formerly of Snatch) gives (sneering) voice and (nihilistic) lyrics to Cunnningham's songs (plus a surreally creepy cover of Curtis Mayfield's "Move On Up"). Most of this isn't exactly "songs" in the usual sense, though — like much of Brian Eno's early catalog, Wall exists in a gray area where the avant-garde and pop overlap. (Robert Fripp and classical/film composer Michael Nyman assist.) There's the Eastern exotica-flavored march "A-Train" (think the Residents meet Martin Denny); the proto-ambient techno of "In My Lifetime" and "New Voice," and the pensive, discordant/disconcerting industrial pop of "Steam Away" (think Throbbing Gristle circa "United").

The raw and kaleidoscopic Fourth Wall sounds both of and ahead of its time and strangely contemporary, too. Rally 'round, noise-popsters! (Caroline)


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