Funky...in a Japanese, kitschy, quirky style
Christopher Culver | 11/13/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Not quite in the same vein as his debut FUTURE LISTENING, Towa Tei's 1998 release SOUND MUSEUM left behind many of the Brazilian elements of his first album. SOUND MUSEUM, though just as loungy, is an exploration of funk.The opening track, "The Sound Museum," is an odd electronica song with robotic samples ("Mr Smith would like to know...how many robots there are") and swinging brass. "Time after Time" is a soul-inspired almost-house track. The Biz Markie-accompanied rap song "BMT" is an interesting diversion that definitely would seem out-of-place to anyone who had only FUTURE LISTENING.The album's standout single, "G.B.I.", features Kylie Minogue singing on a Chicago-style house song about a typeface. Despite its less-than-exciting theme, "G.B.I." might be the best song on the album. The songs after it include Towa's cover of "Private Eyes" by Hall and Oates, which is actually sort of ho-hum, and "Everything We Do is Music," a journey through samples of that phrase in several languages.Not exactly revolutionary or must-have, SOUND MUSEUM is nonetheless a nice piece of ear-candy that would appeal to anyone who has a flair for offbeat music, especially of the inexplicable Japanese kind."
Ryan Hennessy | Albany, NY | 11/23/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The title of Towa Tei's second solo album, Sound Museum, makes it seem like it's going to be a direct contradiction to his first album titled Future Listening. Actually, the style on it is very familiar. Towa loves prgramming his songs on a computer, writing lyrics in about 5 different languages, combining bossa nova, disco and hip-hop and having the beautifully voiced Bebel Gilberto sing on half of the tracks. But while Future Listening was an undoubted success at making a kind of quirky global dance music, Sound Museum retraces its steps but falters nearly every step of the way.It kicks off with the dense and sampledelic "The Sound Museum" which is nothing more than a cut-and-paste affair. It's like he programmed the computer to be jazzy but I can't decide if he wants me to dance to it or to laugh at it. And just as this album starts off with a dense electronic song like Future Listening, "Time After Time" is this album's "Luv Connection." It's somewhere between 70's funk and En Vogue and I'll just say funk isn't Towa's strong suit."Happy" is a little more successful attempt at the same type of song, but that might just be because sweet Bebel Gilberto sings the chorus. I'm convinced that any song could be sung by her and it would sound good. But still, sadly, she just gets the chorus. "BMT" stands for Biz, Mos and Towa. In other words, Towa got two of my favorite rappers, Biz Markie and Mos Def to contribute to the same song! So it's a surprise that this song isn't better than it is. The music is buzzy and repetitive and the lyrics are surprisingly inane.There's another bad funk song and another inane rap song and there's a song that shows off Towa's love of the strange and kitsch. "German Bold Italic" is about a font that he made up and is actually included in an enhanced part of the CD. The music is nothing to write home about and though he got Australian superhotty Kylie Minogue to do the vocals, all she really gets to do is talk her way through it, playing the part of the font. The last three songs are the only ones worth repeated listenings. The first really good song comes after 7 tracks and is worthy to even be on Future Listening. "Tamilano" sounds like it should be called "Daughter of Bambi" as it sounds just like "Son of Bambi" from the last album but is a lot more playful. Towa again makes a sitar seem like the most obvious instrument to put in a dance song. Then Towa Latinizes Hall and Oates' "Private Eyes" and my favorite Bebel croons her away across the strangely space-inflected bass, fender rhodes and strings arrangements.But the final song is what makes the CD. If Sound Museum popped up in a bargain bin, "Everything We Do Is Music" would make it worth the purchase. This is where Towa really shines. The ten-minute opus starts with a cut-up gamelan recording and eventually lands at spots all over the world and in outer space. The song's title and message is repeated over and over in the song in different languages to drive the point home. This is a song that deserves to be heard by everyone at some point in time."
Japanese Flava from Towa Tei!
The Groove | Boston, MA | 10/08/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As one third of Deee-lite, Towa Tei may have been the quietest member of the trio, but I think he had the most to offer musically. His second solo CD, "Sound Museum," is a head-bobbingly agreeable grab bag of sorts: deep house, hip hop, and elctro soul. "Time After Time" blends a rich, deep bassline against electronic bleeps; Kylie Minogue gets roped in for vocals on the house-injected "GBI," and then there's a personal favorite of mine, the funky and Dee-lite-ish "Higher." But the track that will most likely raise eyebrows is the low-key, bossa-nova reinterpretation of the Hall and Oates gem "Private Eyes." "Sound Museum" is a pretty hard disc to dislike; give it a whirl on your player, and you'll be bobbing your head to the groove in seconds."