From the transparent shock tactics of the Prodigy to the bean-brained simplicity of the Chemical Brothers, most high-profile electronica has been aimed at the lowest common denominator. Nominally speaking Fatboy Slim (aka former Housemartins bassist Norman Cook) makes the same kind of music as the Chemical Brothers--an in-your-face, dumbed-down style known as "big beat." Like his more famous counterparts he bludgeons listeners with an endless profusion of massive breakbeat samples, but whereas they usually pair up a simple groove and an unsophisticated sonic gimmick, loop it for six or seven minutes, and call it a song, Fatboy Slim keeps things giddy, constantly tossing in sci-fi sound effects or familiar pop music refrains--maybe a predictable rubbery synth bass line, maybe the signature guitar riff from the Who's "I Can't Explain." After seven or eight listens, the brassy clatter of his debut album, Better Living Through Chemistry (Astralwerks), started to wear on my nerves, but as aural junk food, it certainly delivers the buzz. As is the fashion for electronica artists, Cook won't be performing per se, but rather putting his own spin on other people's records. Tuesday, 10 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203. PETER MARGASAK
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Gavin Wilson.