tUnE-yArDs BiRd-BrAiNs

BiRd-BrAins announces a bold, confounding and beautiful new musical talent. Merrill Garbus draws upon myriad influences and skills for her debut as tUnE-YaRdS. Folk strumming and picking is as commonplace as hip-hop beats, whirring and buzzing synths, distorted noise stabs and Merrill's ever-present chameleon voice. She bends and winds African-inspired melodies around a constantly changing tapestry of sound, throws in some complex rhyming and takes the occasional turn into sinister Tom Waits-style storytelling. The music masterfully echoes and supports some grand themes, but occasionally songs playfully disintegrate and the whole album is very unpolished. As intriguing as it is, BiRd-BrAins doesn't feel like a complete musical statement, more a collection of wildly imaginative ideas intended as much as cathartic personal experiments as songs for public consumption or artistic scrutiny. It'll be exciting to hear what kind of compositions more focus and resources yield. (4AD)