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Zooropa

Willamette Week (Oregon), July 09, 1993
By: Tim Casebeer

 

From the album-opening swell of synthesizer, tape-looped voices, piano and eerie Eastern chant to the recording's last sound -- a startling car alarm -- this is not your usual U2 release. Whipped up in a couple of months between legs of their recent world tour, Zooropa finds U2 revolting against the confines of its overwhelming commercial success with an experimental work that offers an intriguing look inside the band's creative process. The Edge trades in his chiming guitar work for a synthesizer that is augmented by a library of electronic bleeps and blips created by avant-gardist and longtime U2 collaborator Brian Eno. Bassist Adam Clayton holds down the bottom end with rigidly repetitive patterns not unlike house music, and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. has been turned into a drum machine. Bono is the only band member free to pursue his usual avenue of expression. Two things are especially interesting about this new approach. One is the level of facility the band has achieved with this foreign musical language. When the Edge takes a rare turn at the microphone on "Numb," delivering a monotone freestyle rap to the band's Euro-beat backing, neither he or the band come off as ridiculous. The album is also unique in that it affords listeners a chance to hear material that hasn't been buffed to the band's usually brilliant shine. Many of these songs have been captured between the "good idea" stage and a finished product. This is especially obvious in Bono's lyrics. When he sings "Be a winner/Eat to get slimmer" on the title track or "Some days are slippy, some days are sloppy/Some days you can't stand the sight of a puppy" on "Some Days Are Better Than Others," you're hearing raw material that would ordinarily be edited and revised before reaching the public. A throwaway worth picking up.

© 1993 Willamette Week. All rights reserved.

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