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Serart

Serart (Serjical Strike/Columbia)

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A fusion of Frank Zappa's ostentatiously odd arrangements and Slayer's infernal metallic brutality, System of a Down is one of the few beacons in nü-metal's sea of crap. So it's not surprising that a System side project also intrigues. On this eponymous debut, System vocalist Serj Tankian joins forces with Turkish avant-garde multi-instrumentalist Arto Tuncboyaciyan, who has worked with jazz greats Joe Zawinul, Chet Baker, and Al DiMeola. He also provided percussion for System's five-million-selling 2001 album Toxicity, so he's familiar with Tankian's quirky songwriting.

Serart is eons away from nü-metal's tedious macho grandstanding; rather, it's pan-ethnic psychedelia, full of unclichéd jazz, folk, and funk. Let's hope this disc, which includes a bonus DVD containing an experimental film, leads System fans down new sonic avenues.

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