Serart

'Art' Of Noise

IdolLong outspoken in his political beliefs, it's no surprise that System Of A Down's Serj Tankian has voiced his opposition to an U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Yet now he's content to let bombs do the talking. The most striking moment on his first album with experimentalist Arto Tuncboyaciyan, a Columbia project the two have dubbed Serart, is when the music stops and the explosions start.

"Love is the Peace" arrives halfway through the self-titled set, breaking up a jazz-inspired romp through global sounds with the discord of gunfire. By the time the song gives way to the serene chanting of the Turkish-born Tuncboyaciyan, the album has been sufficiently jolted into more serious, topical terrain.

"When you hear those chants, which are very peaceful sounds, in contrast to the bombs, you appreciate the dynamics of that," Tankian says. "It's definitely a message, but what's more enjoyable to me is hearing the cross-cultural and cross-genre music that comes out of the album."

From start to finish, the album brims with unrestrained exploration, the sound of a pair of artists letting loose in a studio without a plan. Tankian provides his familiar growl and operatic wails to "Cinema," which are colored with off-the-cuff percussion and Arabic chimes, while "Devil's Wedding" burns like an out-of-control desert incantation, albeit one with guitars. The drum and bass of "Narina" bridges Portishead with a tribal group, and Tuncboyaciyan provides nearly every track with Third World instrumentation and vocalists.

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