Björk, Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent, and More

BJÖRK

Pier 62/63 at 7 p.m.

Fri., Aug. 15, with Bonnie "Prince" Billy. $55 adv.

Björk's relationship to electronic music has always run deeper than her choice of collaborators and associateseasily caricatured by sexist rock crits as the "real" musical brains of the collaboration, especially since she's had extramusical affairs with a couple of them. Listen to 2002's Greatest Hits, and its shiftsfrom quirky art-rock to lugubrious trip-hop to clean-lined techno stringscome across like an artist shedding successive skins, their moment's mod flourishes like ill-fitting outfits that have outlived their usefulness. Ironic then, that it wasn't until she plunged herself into the glitchthe now rapidly fading au courant signifier of "modern" production that she once favorably compared to the "intimacy" of a muzzy, compressed MP3on 2001's Vespertine that the hoarfrost fragility and wayward, oceanic depth of her work were finally integrated. If you think Björkwith her swan dresses and kooky movie projects and journalist-smashing kung fu gripis a rather lame go-to-girl for "otherness," it's worth remembering that she's probably the only midlevel pop star who'd sample German maschinemusik producers Oval and write a paean to the joys of waking up with your lover still inside you. Freed from the cozy confines of the studio, her voice, too easily parodied as that of a Muppet or an anime ingenue, or as post-Yoko Ono frippery, opens up, melting the baroque sonic ice sculptures she erects around herself. (Though playing outdoors during the hottest month of the year might do that for her.) And her live sampling and processing experiments, such as turning the crunch of stones underfoot into a rhythm track, are more "post-rock" than two-dozen Tortoise records. JESS HARVELL

COLIN BLUNSTONE AND ROD ARGENT

Crocodile Cafe at 9 p.m.

Fri., Aug. 15, with the Minus Five and the Vells. $20 adv.

It's late September of 2002 in Minneapolis, but it's raining Seattle rainnot a torrential gray downpour, but a soft, noirish drizzle illuminating the slick downtown streets. In other words, it's Zombies weatherperfect for an evening with the group's founding duo, Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent, who are playing a downtown club. There's always been a hint of melancholia tingeing Argent's languid organ and Blunstone's airy vocals, even in the Zombies' most forthright music: the Argent-penned No. 2 hit "She's Not There," dominated by a sneaky organ part and featuring one of the most recognizable opening lines in popular music, and 1968's No. 1 "Time of the Season," simultaneously one of the sexiest and most discreet chart-toppers of the period. Argent's classically trained fingers gave the Zombies a cerebral cast, but they were earthy, toohis Hammond organ could transform a Motown song into a sweetly disparaging blues number. The Zombies' sleepy soul has influenced dozens of groups; Big Beat U.K.'s comprehensive four-disc box, Zombie Heaven, showcases a band whose appeal lies far beyond their singles. Or their past, for that matter. What was most gratifying about that rainy September evening was seeing and hearing Argent and Blunstone retain the youthful excitement that's all over their early singles. Even better, Blunstone's falsetto remains unvarnished: When he launched into the celestial, heart-stopping "And I don't know what to sa-aaay" of "I Love You," his every hope and inhibition was audible in the crack of his voice. The new Out of the Shadows, released in March by Koch, marries Blunstone's trademark wisp with the more progressive rock-oriented sound Argent pursued in the '70s with his self-named group (responsible for "Hold Your Head Up" and "God Gave Rock and Roll to You," the latter famously covered by Kiss). But live, they dip heavily and happily into the old songbook. KATE SILVER

DAVE GAHAN

Paramount Theater at 8 p.m.

Sat., Aug. 16, with Kenna. $38-$48 adv.

Dave Gahan has spent over 20 years mutating from a shy-voiced Essex wide boy to swaggering arena-rock god in the course of fronting Depeche Mode. Even before singing lessons smoothed out his voice, it was nearly impossible to imagine anyone else carrying songs like "Stripped," "Enjoy the Silence," and "Walking in My Shoes" like he did. More than a few times in interviews over recent years, he's talked about wanting to sing his own songs rather than always being Martin Gore's interpreter. That said, Paper Monsters (Warner Bros.), his first solo disc, doesn't stray far from Depeche Mode's trademark electro-rock exultations and meditations, though lyrically he's far less caught up in religious imagery than Gore. But this isn't a sudden break from the past. Sigur Rós producer Ken Thomas and chief musical collaborator Knox Chandler abjure the glitch beats of DM's last album, 2001's Exciter; instead, Paper Monsters is a continuation of the rich, dark sound of Depeche's mid-'90s model aside from the low key "I Need You." Steady stompers like "Dirty Sticky Floors" and "Bottle Living" could have turned up on any of the last few Mode albums, but gorgeous slow numbers "Stay," "Black and Blue Again," and the Cure-ish "Hidden Houses" make a convincing case that far from losing his voice with time, Gahan is still improving as a singer. Not bad for a man pronounced legally dead a few years back. NED RAGGETT

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