Xpensive Dogs/Wat Tyler, Split CD (MultiMusica USA)

Xpensive Dogs are a Japanese/US internet collaboration between Toshi Hiraoka, Gary Tanin and Greg Koch. Together they cook up a steaming gumbo of sound with the most exotic side-salad you ever heard. On none of the seven tracks here can I think of an immediate comparison, which is always nice. But I don't want to praise this band for being different as despite what many will tell you, different does not equate to innovative, nor to good. I mean, there's plenty of other wilfully obtuse bands around, but how many of them sound un-contrived and natural? The Dogs combine breakneck poly-rhythms, quirky guitar lines that spiral off all over the shop, wild squeaky synths, chunks of sound, gurgles, gloops, bleeps and blurps galore. Xpensive Dogs are both innovative and excellent.

In fact, this is unbelievably cohesive for a record of this type put together by (e)mail. Makes you wonder what might've happened had all the musicians involved been in the same place at the same time (and why Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder only managed a horribly naive and sickly ballad when given much the same freedom). It's a shame that there are only seven tracks, pick of the bunch for me is Money for Love, the most balls-out of them.

Wat Tyler do their usual punk-rock-comedy-good-time thing. And they are superb at it. The tracks here form a compilation of already-released material aimed at the Japanese market. If you're already a fan, you'll probably have it. If not, then it's worth getting this disc for the introduction: 15 songs plus hilarious liner notes. Topper.

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