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Wednesday, May 6 1998
Amsterdam's workhorse art-funksters Donkey bring to town nearly tuned gurgling guitars, pliant cello, tight blacksploitation drums, infectious bass lines, and clever singing styles, which vacillate between the barking disdain of the Fall's Mark E. Smith and the syrupy harmonies of My Bloody Valentine. Donkey craft high weirdness and danceable spizz with such variety that they can seep from a full-fledged pogofest into drone dub -- and even drum 'n' bass -- without losing their characteristically mutated form.

Donkey's debut album, I Ain't Your House-Nigger (the title is supposedly a statement made by an aboriginal man in a documentary, lifted to make a comment on the music industry and social politics), opens with "Theme From 'Nobby's Chaser.' " Guitarist Pim Heyne's detuned wah-pedal guitar flogs David Turner's funk drums, starting things off like a violent car chase. That song cascades into the jagged post-punk of "Five Tyred Drag." Chiming guitars and vocalist/bassist Ajay Saggar's climbing four-string follow on "Warmth-Ness," cellist/vocalist Gaynor Haggarty's Middle Eastern-scale melody gliding into transfixing measures. Thereafter, they're off for unmapped territories of synthesis and genius, which take them into dub, spazzmodics, jutting guitars, sampled film dialogue, and twisted, unpretentious charm.

Donkey's latest album, released in Europe on Guided Missile under the title Stroke My Wings Gently, and in the States on Loveletter Recordings as Pump in the Yard, Dump in the Bucket, takes further steps into spacescapes hinted at on their 1996 debut. Where they had infused bits of the droning wah-pedal layerings of Spacemen 3 into their hyperfunked artcore, several of the new songs ease the throttle to explore ambient tones and fuzz sonics. However, the tweaking vocal rankling and tightly wound dance rhythms remain intact, if only differently placed.

-- Dave Clifford

Donkey play Friday, May 8, at 9 p.m. at the Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St. (at Texas). Brian Jonestown Massacre headline and Snowmen open. Tickets are $7; call 621-4455.

About The Author

Dave Clifford


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