SUSPENSION THROUGH SAT., MAY 8 Elliott Sharp and Janene Higgins opened their ...

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Elliott Sharp and Janene Higgins opened their three-week sound/image installation "Suspension" last week with a performance and a gallery talk. Part of the Chelsea Art Museum's Project Room series, "Suspension" melds two channels of Higgins' rushing/lingering urban meditation to an aural component Sharp calls "more a soundscape than music."

"'Suspension' contrasts the idea of instants and moments of time with time's duration in the urban landscape," says Higgins. Working with tapes, camera, laptop and mixers, she vitalizes the suspension of disbelief—"the inherent term in cinematic experience"—layering transit channels and the Brooklyn Bridge's cable skeins to evoke "what's holding everything up."

Sharp and Higgins have been touring their work internationally. Sharp, the composer/instrumentalist known for his projects Orchestra Carbon, Tectonics and Terraplane as well as orchestral and film scores, has worked with artists from guitar legends Sonny Sharrock and Hubert Sumlin to DJ Christian Marclay and playwright Dael Orlandersmith. Higgins, led to video and digital media from a career in graphic design, has a duo with harpist Zeena Parkins and has performed with guitarists Vernon Reid and Alan Licht. Her work has been shown at Documenta X and the Netherlands' Impakt Festival (Higgins also organizes events at P.S. 1's Clocktower Gallery in Tribeca).

For the opening performance, Higgins improvised on two walls in one of the Project Room's corners, between which Sharp played bass clarinet "and my electro-acoustic guitar, processing and layering it through the computer. Digital work can lack immediacy—I call it the sweat factor—and by using acoustic material, live performance can restore some of that immediacy."

Higgins' projections sample scenes shot "sitting on the subway, looking at a piece of terra cotta, walking through a crowd at Grand Central—in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, you find these moments of suspension."

"The work of Sharp and Higgins is an exciting example of the future of cinema," says Nina Colosi, who's producing CAM's Project Room series. "In the way jazz is improvisation on musical instruments, performance cinema is improvisation playing diverse sound, visual and technological instruments. It's cinema without walls that's living and performable."

Chelsea Art Museum, 556 W. 22nd St. (11th Ave.), 212-255-0719, Tues.-Sat., 12-6, Thurs. 12-8, $5, $2 st./s.c.



Louie Vega, no longer "Little," has set up camp at Cielo. After taking his group Elements of Life on the road, he's back to spinning the disco-house wax for all the Europeans out on a school night. I ask him when his Masters at Work partner, Kenny Dope, will join him. "In the summer," he says. Mr. Vega is bobbing his head next to me for buddy Kevin Hedge.

There were some problems with the sound system at first, so Hedge kept it light. Once the kink in the mixer was resolved, he dropped Mr. Fingers "Can You Feel It?" The bass on that track can paralyze an ordinary human. Luckily, I'm half dog; once the cymbals kick in, I'm usually making an ass of myself by trying to hump the closest leg next to me.

As quickly as he turned it on, though, Hedge slipped into some stringy disco that I know the kids at Sound Library would sell for thousands. It sounded deep as ever.

What gives me hope that New York City is still hot: DJ Spinna taking a residency at APT. Once a month he'll be pulling it down. But can't somewhere with a dance floor book cool jocks? Is it really too much to ask in a city full of clubs? Some call me crazy.

I recently copped a reissue of Spinna's instrumentals on Female Fun, Composition2. And after a few listens it occurred to me that this guy is a studio magician. The all-instrumental EP stays on the loungy side of soul, but shows off the producer's ear for using a sample properly. These lazy, rolling tracks change direction, taking interesting, funky turns, which can't be said for a lot of the downtempo debris rolling off the factory belt lately.

But let's not be cynical. Spring is finally in the air. Soon, cars with booming amps are going to be blasting the latest hiphop jam while sitting at a traffic light. My pick this year is Cam'ron's "Hey Lady." It's got the bounce of "Oh Boy" without that finger-poppin' piano clip. I can already see the kids in my neighborhood eating Italian ices at the pizzeria while this song echoes off the streets. Or maybe the double-dutch girls will be jumping to T.I.'s "Rubber Band Man." The dirty Souf has come to dominate hiphop. The year's biggest records have all originated from Atlanta: Outkast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below and now Usher's Confessions. If you're looking for more "Yeah," you'll be somewhat disappointed. The rest of the album delivers more ballads than crunk club bangers. It is still Usher.

Cielo, 18 Little W. 12th St. (betw. Washington St. & 9th Ave.), 212-645-5700, 10, $10.

Edward Rogers, to his eternal credit, had a pretty good time when dragged along to that recent Ruben Studdard show at the Beacon Theater. That was gracious of him, too, since Rogers' Sunday Fables proves that there was a time when he could have outdone Studdard as a pop star with one hand tied behind his back. Actually, that's exactly what Ed does—and I'd elaborate, but Richard Kimble jokes haven't been as much fun since 1993.

Anyway, Rogers is the kind of Anglophile who's watched his beloved musical scene get hijacked by the evil corporate machine that was once—well, an evil corporate machine on his side. The veteran scenester has still cultivated his fannish obsessions with the remnants of that age. Nobody who's followed Rogers' pop-compulsive career is surprised, for example, to see some former Zombies gracing Rogers' long-expected solo effort.

This alone guarantees Rogers a certain segment of sales from a needy power-pop audience. He's also gotten lucky by hooking up with George Usher as his collaborator. Usher's hit his own pop stride in recent years, and Sunday Fables is a surprisingly sharp collection of orchestral easy listening.

Rogers and Usher are bringing in the string section for this concert at Fez, opening as token pop guys who are still willing to make a stand in Manhattan. Joshua Tyler also appears for a nice final bow before taking his lovely vocal stylings off to Nashville. He's got a traveling companion in the charming Kris Woolsey, who's ditching the Loser's Lounge empire for his own move to a town where Paul Williams can get some respect. His old band moniker of Cardinal Woolsey is reassembled for this farewell appearance, which will hopefully sound like a celebration. That concert by Ruben Studdard was the funeral.

Fez/Time Cafe, 380 Lafayette St. (Great Jones St.), 212-533-7000, 7, $10.

WEDS. & THURS., APRIL 21 & 22

Since their debut amidst the pre-post-rockers of the 90s, the dour team of Chi-Towners that makes up Tortoise has tried their best not to seem like the science-class socialists that most critics have made them out to be. They backed up Tom Zé while he did his own take on techno Tropicalia. They've produced and played behind—just recently—the wildly creepy likes of Azita and the wily Brazilian-influenced Savath + Savalas. Why, I even saw pictures of them with funny Devo-like sunglasses.

With each passing album, they've attempted to make their un-merry mix of calculated charred minimalism, chilled Californian jazz, dripping dub and Morricone-like cinemascapes seem as silly as their Krautrock predecessors; Can with no drugs and better production; Kraftwerk in baggy t-shirts. Yet their efforts have remained as stain-free, clean and precise and mathematically symmetrical as a NASA timesheet before the retro-rockets fired.

Is that so bad? No. Like watching that documentary about kids pissed off at their own spelling bee mistakes, it's that consistency of linearity—the planned accidental nature—of Tortoise that makes them an adventure. You listen to their hermetic harmonies and graphically lined grooves as if searching for atom dust while wearing silken white gloves. For those reasons alone, It's All Around You is a smash: its vibraphones, its Peaches en Regalia guitar tones, its twittering drums. Despite the fact that there's some wordless harmonies on "The Lithium Shifts," some 60s-game-show xylophones on "Five Too Many" and some aptly cresting crests on, hmm, "Crest," this is deja vu vintage John McEntire-produced clutter-and-calm circa TNT; so pure it'll float.

If you want something that'll fuck up your cool consideration toward Tortoise, leave your house early and check Beans. The ex-Antipop Consortium clown is like Mickey Rourke in Spun—the prose-spinning tweaker of eclectronic alterna-hop. He's the Schoolly D of math-hop: scary, derisive and divisive. After finishing off his brainy Consortium with their 2002 masterwork Arrhythmia, Beans set about remaking his elastic, hypnotic funk as something startlingly stiffer and flat; retro 80s electro that sounded almost pop. Listen to the stab-and-slithering "Phreek the Beat" in any form. His Dada-ist prose, as imagined on his solo full-length debut Tomorrow Right Now, and its recent accompanying re-imagined Now Soon Someday EP (with remixes by Prefuse 73 and El-P), sounds broader, badder and bolder than previous as his music becomes an empty evil shell from which Beans must crawl.

Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey St. (betw. Bowery & Chrystie St.), 212-533-2111, 10, $18, $16 adv.


Circle & Square have been rocking local venues from Luxx to Northsix since 2000, upstaging headliners like Saves the Day along the way. The New York quartet hasn't decided if they're emo or rock, but they do both great, making the girls sway with "All You Ever Were," then stomping their way through epic "The Difference Engine." The roots showing on their four-track debut Harmonov include Joni Mitchell, Air and Modest Mouse. More seamless musical clashes will be heard on their upcoming release, with a sneak peek tonight at Mercury Lounge. If you still can't decide to go or not, buy the $6 Circle & Square "Rollerskating w/Chainsaw" pillowcase off their website and sleep on it. 217 E. Houston St. (betw. Ludlow & Essex Sts.) 212-260-4700, 7:30, $8.


Sci-fi and hard-science nerds alike have already creamed their corduroys just reading the title of this one. A Star Wars and Isaac Asimov buddy reference. And that's not all. The astrophysical rumination covers what we don't know about the Final Frontier too, including those "super-massive black holes that lurk in the centers of galaxies." Neil de Grasse Tyson moderates this voyage into the unknown. Bring your robot. LeFrak Theater, American Museum of Natural History, 77th St. (betw. Columbus Ave. & Central Park W.), RSVP, 212-769-5200, 7:30, $14, $12 st./s.c.


Sick bastard? Or nice guy who's just pushing the limits? Maybe somewhere in between? If you know anything about Peter Sotos, it's either from his appearance in the original Apocalypse Culture or by way of Total Abuse, the Jim Goad-published compilation of Sotos' early writing. If you don't know anything about Peter Sotos, his new book, Selfish, Little: The Annotated Lesley Ann Downey, is as good a place to start as any. (See review on p. 57.) Tonight, he will read from this latest trip through the margins of sexual excess—presumably with lots of attention paid to his favorite topics: buggery, thrill fucking and, of course, pedophilia. subTonic Lounge, 107 Norfolk St. (betw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.), 212-358-7501, 7, free.

90 Day Men write complex, melodic, piano-driven compositions with an Old Testament fire and instrumental mastery that's impossible to categorize without using an obnoxiously large number of hyphens. Panda Park, the band's third full-length release, is a modest 32 minutes that's been compared favorably to a French dinner: tight, intense, rich and best taken one bite at a time. Some are tempted to call them prog-rock because they use titles like "Even Time Ghost Can't Stop Wagner," but that's a superficial read. And if they are prog rock, the emphasis still falls on "rock." Some Chicago band called Tortoise closes. Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey St. (betw. Bowery & Chrystie St.), 212-533-2111, 9, $18, $16 adv., 18+.


It's not my fault that a handful of all-gay acts got together to blitz the East Coast in "Queercore" unison and call it that. I'm not even certain I like that title. It's misleading on several counts. One, because "core" anything almost always results in one of its instigators being harder and more raw, than say, BoySkout, who definitely neither seem nor sound "core" anything. In fact, with their knotted ties, vests and fedoras they look like Annie Hall, and, they sound like Nina Hagen fronting Dead Can Dance the dark-decca-dance-dynamic of their Bomp!/Alive debut CD School of Etiquette. Something this nancing, nuanced, nervous and new wavey (no more alliteration) is so anti-anarchistic it simply shouldn't be homo-riffic. Then there's the Y-chromosome-heavy grindcore of New York City's Dead Betties, the Thorobred label boys who'll surely seem out of place amongst the gals.

Yet, no matter, with Donna Dresch on board, the tour is not lacking lesbian-liciousness. What activists like Deke Nihilson were to the great 80s zine, Homocore, Dresch was to Chainsaw and its record label outgrowth. This was ugly, ardent, snotty ACT UP literature truly acting up with its bitching bittersweet politics and sourpuss pussy-power set to rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrriot. Bands like Pansy Division, labels like Mr. Lady—they were born of Queen Dresch's drastic writings and homo-superior attitudes as well as her rigorous Team Dresch. Now part of Davies vs. Dresch—the twin-six-stringed power punk trio with Caitlin Love and Kristina Davies—Dresch promises a sociopolitical rhetoric in tune with its melodies for an "all talk, all action" stance.

Joining Dresch in the garrulous struggle are the big-grunge ugly metal sounds of Manhattan's own Triple Creme (I love that name, but I love their song "Accidental" more) and Gina Young + The Bent and Boston's all-baked retro-rocking Secret Cock—the latter a band who could kick the Queen right out of Justin Hawkins.

Sin-é, 150 Attorney St. (betw. Houston & Stanton Sts.), 212-388-0077, 8, $12, $10 adv.


Mark Farina grew up with gritty Chicago tech, but has made San Francisco his home turf for serving deep and smoothed-out house joints. His chilled Mushroom Jazz series on OM made him a sought-after jock, but he'll be pushing the bpm up for the crowd at the old Limelight tonight, aka Avalon. Donald Glaude is a veteran of the West Coast rave scene who's been known to join the crowd during his performances. Oooh wee. 470 W. 20th St. (6th Ave.), 212-807-7780, 10, $25.


Like to watch? The folks at the Greene Dragon collective want you to stop. Right now, young woman. Whether they also want you to take the next step and actually kill your television is unclear, but they have set up a slew of non-eye-glazing events to make withdrawal less painful. The highlight is Friday night's "Grande Ole Hootenanny" at CBGB's 313 Gallery, which looks set to be a night of neo-vaudevillian bacchanalia with the Luminescent Orchestrii, the Margulies Family Singers, Eric Walton's Magic Show, Hoe Down Burlesque by Darlinda's Polyester Players, as well as puppets by imnotlost performing "In Order to Continually Dissolve." For a complete run-down of the weekend's events (many for kids of all stages of sexual development) see 313 Bowery (Bleecker St.), 212-677-0455, 7:30, $7.


A sense of growing ever more distant from home permeates Perpetuum Mobile, the latest of two just-released albums from Einstürzende Neubauten. In both its tunefulness and emotional nuance, Perpetuum is a far cry from the way Neubauten first appeared 24 years ago when they epitomized their name—"collapsing new buildings"—with an unholy junk-percussion racket almost completely devoid of melody, tonality, even structure.

Along with other like-minded artists of the time, the band tested our very definitions of music, in the process helping kick off the radical new style that would come to be known as industrial. Since then, Neubauten have been on a slow, steady migration toward melody and restraint.

"When we started out," explains co-founder Alexander Hacke, "there was hardly any noise in popular music. As the world is changing and the media is expanding, nowadays silence is an offensive or rebellious thing. We are playful scientists—we use different approaches each time. If you get more experience, you know where to put the punches. A nice melody leading up to a big bang is more effective than just one big bang after the other."

Where 2000's Silence Is Sexy expressed the relationship between person and home via the band's mournful disconnection with a changing Berlin, this time it's the person who's on the move. Reflecting the fact that none of Neubauten's members are based in Berlin anymore, transit between destinations is the album's recurring preoccupation. Subdued, spacious and—quite literally—full of air (air compressors were used as instruments, and air is referenced in many of the lyrics), Perpetuum is a serene study in melancholy that's both resigned and restless. Its songs were culled from a series of sessions that were webcast for paying fans who were then encouraged to interfere with the process via email. (A preceding set of songs was assembled as Supporters Album #1 and sold exclusively to those fans.)

Most compelling about this open creative process, an extreme adjustment for a band that always worked in secrecy, is how some of the songs made it to completion only because fans insisted. Perpetuum, one-third of which consists of alternate versions of pieces on Supporters Album, is the intimacy of that process unveiled at the marketplace. The current live set list includes selections from both albums, older material and even newer material in the form of what the band calls "ramps"—improvisational pieces that connect two songs in the set list and often later become fully developed songs themselves.

To most New Yorkers, the West Berlin of the Cold War, where the members of Neubauten grew up, must have seemed unattainable, an intangible metaphor. But even before Osama, we've had a frame of reference, thanks to forces of "progress" that have repeatedly made dust of our city. (Cross Bronx Expressway, anyone? Starbucks? A mall in Herald Square??) The irony may be lost on us, but as those same insidious forces now eat away at Berlin, you can count on Neubauten to produce the angst, if not the noise, on our behalf.

Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Pl. (15th St.), 212-777-6800, 8, $24, $20 adv.


The new IMAX flick opens today, offering a bug's-eye view of the world, from dog poop to your local salad bar. And you thought Fast Food Nation was bad. Narrated by Dame Judi Dench. American Museum of Natural History, Central Park W. (79th St.), 212-769-5200, 11:30, 1:30 & 3:30, $19, $14 st./s.c., $11 kids.

It's paddlin' time! Settle down, you S&M freaks, we're talking about boats. Lots of boats. The Bronx River Alliance starts off the boating season with a bang in the Boogie Down, with scores of self-propelled sea-worthy vessels taking to the Bronx river. After navigating six miles of Bronx waves, a festival commences at Concrete Plant Park, Westchester Ave. (betw. Whitlock & Bronx River Aves.), 718-430-4665, 9:30, free.

Call in the National Guard—it's those dangerous Falun Gong nutters en masse! Actually, it's just a big tai chi demonstration. This morning at 10, more than 800 practitioners of tai chi and qigong will present a demonstration in Central Park, joining 2000 similar events worldwide. Join the meditation in motion if you want, but we're going to throw a lawn chair and hope a huge kung-fu fight breaks out. East Meadow, Central Park, 5th Ave. (betw. 97th & 100th Sts.), 646-698-3375, 10, free.

Johanna Buccola could pass for a 14-year-old girl, but in fact the tiny redhead is a full-grown woman. And while her stage show might look like a 14-year-old girl playing make-believe in her bedroom, Buccola's make-believe is much darker and funnier than anything an adolescent could ever come up with. She mocks women and she mocks herself—"Shoes are like chocolate for the feet." Now that you dorks can't watch Sex and the City anymore, you might try some live theater. People's Improv Theater, 154 W. 29th St. (betw. 6th & 7th Aves.), 212-563-7488, 7, $6.

This walking tour through Barbra Streisand's childhood home marks the 62nd anniversary of the Babs' terrifying reign on planet Earth. Let's all take a moment to collectively shudder, then ponder possibilities. The women taking this tour represent the pickpocketing opportunity of the year. Like butter. Meet at S.W. corner 8th St. (5th Ave.), 212-265-2663, 5, $5.


It's time to break out the ol' acoustic and sing songs about the nasty things that have been done to your mother. Mother Earth, that is. The old lady is in pretty rough shape these days, so come celebrate Earth Day in Union Square Park North, where you can recycle your old electronics equipment and get a free bicycle safety check. It'll be fun for the whole commune. 17th St. (B'way), 212-477-4022, 12-4, free.

Are you going to punch the next person you see stumble out of The Passion of the Christ in tears? Think "under God" needs to get Sharpied out of the Pledge of Allegiance? Or maybe you just plain don't believe in a diety. Today the New York City Atheists present a "variety of views on the topic" before opening the floor for general participation from alienated heathens like yourself. 352 7th Ave., 16th fl. (betw. 29th & 30th Sts.), 212-330-6794, 1, $10 sugg. don.


Not to be confused with the lovely Latino act of the same name (that'd be a big mistake), Ben Nichols' not-so-lilting somewhat one-man-band Lucero references at least some of the Southwestern Americana the other Lucero might find familiar. There's a hint of the conjunto here, the yawn of a pedal steel there. But unlike many brothers of the New South, who tighten their reins around a garage punk's growl or its grueling instrumentalism, Nichols doesn't overuse any of his sounds.

Rather, his is a suppler art form, a bolder, more nuanced one that leaves levees of airy beauty throughout his arrangements as if cinematographing a John Ford sprawl. Lucero's wide-open, filled with sunlight and charm and a disarming machismo that doesn't negate his lyrics' feminine wiles. Yes, there's more heartache by the pound than a battered box of Whitman's Samplers when it comes to his most recent, most melancholy effort, That Much Further West. That's apparent from the bitchy, bitter "Across the River," what with Nichols' soaringly, soulful Arkansas voice rasping through the prose of the misbegotten and such. But there's much more to this country affair than the cruelty of being kind. There's an optimism at foot that you'd never find in Wilco or its predecessor, Uncle Tupelo. On "Tears Don't Matter Much" and "Coming Home," Nichols shows an ebullience toward the homes he chooses to place his hats upon that echoes Glen Campbell riffling through the starry starry skies of those "Southern Nights." Now that's having yerself a good old time. With White Hassle and Kilowatthours.

Knitting Factory, 74 Leonard St. (betw. B'way & Church St.), 212-219-3006, 7:30, $10, $8 adv.


For nearly half a century, Maurice Micklewhite has proven time and again that he's an actor of incredible subtlety and range. It could even be argued that it was his contribution alone that made films like Jaws: The Revenge, The Island, The Hand, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, The Day the Earth Caught Fire, The Muppet Christmas Carol and The Swarm the classics they are today. Of course, the fact that he changed his name to Michael Caine didn't hurt. Tonight, the Lincoln Center Film Society pays tribute to the man and his work at their annual benefit. Avery Fisher Hall, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza, B'way (64th St.), 212-875-5630, 7, $35-$150.


Was the US shelling of Al Jazeera's Baghdad offices deliberate? Was it part of a broader, continuing intimidation campaign against the network? Tonight Yigal Carmon and Abderrahim Foukara take a "candid look at the news agency's reportage in an effort to understand its breadth and assess its value," which may or may not address the above questions. Peter Bergen moderates. NYU School of Law, Vanderbilt Hall Rm. 210, 40 Washington Sq. S. (W. 4th St.), 212-998-6060, 6, free.

Annie Hauck discusses the myriad cultures of food in New York City, sprinkling her talk with clips of food represented in film, including an upcoming documentary that looks at the history of local public school lunches. We haven't seen it, but we're willing to bet a dry hamburger patty that it's strangely and absolutely fascinating. Graduate Center, CUNY, 365 5th Ave. (34th St.), 212-817-8215, 6:30, free.

Contributors: Adam Bulger, Jim Knipfel, Jeff Koyen, Dan Martino, Sarah Shanok,
J.R. Taylor and Alexander Zaitchik.

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