A Swedish punk band that sings in French and utilizes a keytar as its main instrument--this just can't work. Or maybe it's just crazy enough to be brilliant.

Aie! -- Le Trois EP

Did I mention that the vocalist, Aurelie Ferr (a name that sounds suspiciously French, despite her Stockholm address), has a devastating purr? Or that the vocals are way up in the mix, which makes this stuff sound something like Francophile techno-thrash?

In any event, this third shortie from CIKATRI$ (I'm not sure about the all-caps, but that seems to be the style) is utterly arresting. Nobody plays anything like this, and even going back to the madcap mid-80s punk scene not many did. The keytar is the real difference-maker here. Like the melodica (perhaps better known as the "hooter"), this instrument (which is about what it sounds like) provides a distinctive sound that defines the band. Well, that and the hardcore rhythm section.

If you can imagine Blondie reinterpreting black metal, well, you're on the right track. While still in the pop universe, this is some lovely, eccentric and extreme stuff. Not just a breath of fresh air, but gasps and gulps of it. I bet you can't listen just once.

Jon Worley

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