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The mysterious British band Pram is obviously preoccupied with the sea. Their forthcoming album Sargasso Sea (Too Pure/American) has songs called "Eels" and "Sea Swells and Distant Squalls," and artwork for previous releases has included plenty of underwater photography. The band's slippery and at times hallucinogenic music even sounds muted by water. Centered on the riveting, childlike voice of leader/keyboardist Rosie (yep, Pram is one of those bands with no use for last names), it's a skewed mix of oddly swinging drums, distended bass lines, queasy keyboards, palsied horns, and various other virtually unidentifiable sources of sounds, including a homemade theremin. Over the course of three albums and as many EPs, Pram has perfected a twisted idea of the pop songs, drowning conventions like verse-chorus-verse structures, solos, and narrative lyrics in a seductive murkiness. Their jettisoning of rock basics makes describing Pram's music inordinately difficult. Stylistically they possess touches of pop, rock, and jazz but defy classification. Their unusual sonic palette is somewhat hypnotic but never lingers in any one place for very long; ideas ooze out of their music. Words like warm, liquid, primordial, and sensual are accurate but don't come close to painting the full picture. I'd suggest you make the discovery for yourself. The Sea and Cake, whose swell third album, The Biz (Thrill Jockey), is due out in October, open. Monday, 9 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/American Recordings.

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