State: Deluxe Limited Edition 2 CD Set Limited Edition
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Esoteric Recordings are pleased to announce the release of the eagerly awaited new studio album by the legendary TODD RUNDGREN ""State"". This special limited deluxe 2 CD digipack collectors edition features an additional CD recorded at a sold-out concert at The Paradiso, Amsterdam on 11th November 2012 featuring Todd Rundgren and the Metropole Orchestra. This stunning performance saw Todd and this fine orchestra perform specially commissioned orchestral arrangements of Todd's classic repertoire and is a unique souvenir of an incredible and unique concert.
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State is less of a departure than some would suggest. A long-time fan will recognize keyboard sounds harkening back to the Initiation album, percussion and synth effects reminiscent of Healing, rhythm patterns first explored on Ever Popular, even vocal stylings first found on With a Twist. Many the song structures are classic verse/chorus/bridge things Todd has always done.
But all that familiarity is filtered through the aesthetic of today's current--dub step, techno, electronica, industrial. If that's not your thing, this ain't your album. No harm, no foul, no worries.
And yet, there's so much here to admire and enjoy:
"Imagination" starts off with a slow, powerful build of keyboards leading into heavily distorted, drawn out guitar lines. The vocal is buried somewhat in the mix, creating an evocative wall of sound. I really like this track.
"Serious" apes James Brown, then couples that with some serious techno and fun lyrics for a song that's as danceable as anything Todd has ever done.
"In My Mouth" is a weird blend of electronica and bossa nova. Haunting, unexpected and beautiful.
"Ping Me" is classic Todd. Crystal clear, emotive vocals over a bed of keyboards leading into a powerful, fuzzy chorus. Its somewhat clichéd subject matter led me to expect disliking it. I was wrong.
"Angry Bird" is the comedy track Todd always throws in. Very heavy techno sound. It's clever and has some cool passages in it, but I suspect it'll get skipped more often than not.
"Smoke" is a stellar track. It reminds me of something Everything But the Girl might do. It would fit nicely on the Liars album. I love this song.
"Collide-A-Scope" is another track I was prepared to hate. This one features the most chaotic rhythm bed, and yet it all comes together sweetly. Restrained verses are punctuated with a chorus that is almost abrasive. A strangely memorable track.
"Something From Nothing" is another future classic. Featuring guest vocals on the bridge, it is a beautiful, haunting song.
"Party Liquor" should be just a silly throwaway, but it's somehow something more. Again, the techno feel is strong and it's utterly danceable.
"Sir Reality" closes the album perfectly. Sprawling guitars. Interesting lyrics. A range of moods. And a seriousness that adds weight to everything that proceeded it.
One word about the special edition version with the live disk featuring The Metropole Orchestra. Even if you hate the State CD, you will absolutely love this. Todd's voice sounds as great today as it did 30 years ago. His high notes on Bag Lady send shivers. All your favorites are here, interpreted in ways that are loyal to the originals while giving plenty of space for the orchestra to stretch out and do its thing. You can also view this entire concert online. The video itself is comprised of shots taken from 30 cell phones in the audience. Lots of fun to watch. Even better to hear.
For the haters of this album, it's cool to go ahead and skip it. But those interested in taking the journey with an open mind will certainly be well rewarded.
Always one to play with all the latest technology, TR occassionally starts slipping into areas where the technology takes over and, instead of enhancing the work, buries it. I sense some great songs buried underneath all the noodling and noise on this album- while about half just aren't up to his usual level of songwriting. I think everyone agrees that "Liars" was a benchmark and source of optimism for most of the hardcore fans- State is his 4th album since and just isn't up to those high standards. The good news is Todd never stays in one place very long so I expect his next body of work to be a radical departure- one can only hope.
By the way- the concert recording with the Metropole orchestra from Nov 2012 is magnificent. If this is indeed a limited edition- I encourage everyone to buy it now while still available.