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Todd Rundgren - No World Order CD (album) cover


Todd Rundgren


Crossover Prog

1.70 | 25 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars All rapped up

In the late 1980's and 1990's, having effectively brought the life of Utopia to and end, Todd Rundgren split his attention between his solo work and an array of projects which did not require him to perform. Such ventures as video production, album production, etc. all brought with them a demand for Todd to develop his technical skills and awareness. As a result, he discovered he had a natural flair for such things, and got ever more deeply involved. This 1993 follow up to "Second wind" (1991), and the following "The individualist" were actually credited to TRI or Todd Rundgren Interactive, reflecting Todd's intention that they be more than simply music to be listened to.

When the album was originally released, it was made available in various formats compatible with Phillips (now defunct) CD-I, PCs, and MacIntosh computers. The software allowed the listener to manipulate the music through various mixes and other studio trickery. Beneath it all though lay an album of recordings by Todd, who writes, performs and produces everything you hear. That album plays on a conventional CD player revealing Todd's preferred order for the tracks. Cleverly though, he has created the tracks in such a way that even when played in random order, they segue from one to the next, affording the listener the opportunity to manipulate even the CD version.

Right from the start it is obvious that Todd has modernised his sound significantly. Electronic effects and processed guitars compete in a melee of electronics and swirling synths. Catching us completely off guard is the rapping which appears at regular intervals throughout the album. The first three tracks are over in under 4 minutes, the pace being relentless as the tracks merge from one to the next. The even more frantic "Day job" sounds like a cross between U2 and Run DMC, Rundgren's guitar work driving the song ever harder.

Unfortunately the rapping persists, with "Fascist Christ" bordering on the genuine hip hop. Some may find the new style appealing, but they are unlikely to come from the ranks of the traditional Rundgren fans. Hidden away beneath the sounds and effects which seem to come at you from all directions, there are some good old fashioned Rundgren melodies. Tracks such as "love thing" and "Time stood still" appear to be based on pretty standard Todd fare, but any hints of normality are buried beneath the onslaught.

Two of the songs appear three times in different forms on the album. In true computer terminology, these are classified as versions 1.0, 1.1 and 1.2 of the tracks. Of these, the final and longest rendition of "Worldwide epiphany" is one of the better songs here.

In all, an album which sees Todd moving with the times, and attempting to make something contemporary which will appeal to a new audience. No doubt he would have been aware that in the process he would leave some fans (such as myself) behind. On the plus side, the music here is well performed and produced. There is an admirable freshness to the album and the exploration of listener interaction is a bold new initiative. Unfortunately though, the album leaves me cold.

Easy Livin | 2/5 |


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