Exclusive Daily Download: "Instant Lady," Nervous Cabaret

Published October 25, 2005 7:01AM (EDT)

"Gypsy punk" makes me want to die, and when someone described a Brooklyn band to me that played "Qawwali punk" I decided that the best way to deal with this presumed monstrosity was to ignore it. But people kept telling me about the Nervous Cabaret, trustworthy people, and eventually I relented, only to discover that, although the shtick occasionally overwhelms the music, more often than not they're rather brilliant. It's not really punk, but more a blend of cool post-punk (Joy Division is a frequent reference point) and hot Tom Waits-ian ruckus, driven by two fierce drummers flailing away on timpani and floor tom. On "Instant Lady," singer Elyas Khan's lusty, unfettered vocals match the bawdiness of the song -- "You all look sexy in my dreams cause in there you're all fucking me" -- spinning out wordless, mellismatic passages that, at least to these unschooled ears, reference Qawwali devotional music, taking the spiritual and making it gleefully profane.

By Salon Staff

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