Chris & Cosey, "C&C Luchtbal"
While over the course of several years many bands long outstay their welcome, delivering formulaic and uninspired recreations of their past successes, there are a few groups whose passing we generally would not look forward to. Considering their restrained release schedule over the past few years, as well as Cosey Fanni Tutti's physical health concerns, hearing that Chris & Cosey will cease to record further albums under that name should come as no surprise. With C&C Luchtbal, purportedly the band's final album of unreleased material under their most well-known moniker, the artists formerly known as Chris & Cosey leave us with a recording of a 68 minute concert that took place in November of 2002 in Antwerp, Belgium. Though they have chosen to take up the name Carter Tutti to express their musical vision from here on in (making the decision to end Chris & Cosey seem possibly pointless and pompous), this generally mellow release serves as a pleasant soundtrack to their closing chapter. Things begin in a decidedly ambient fashion similar to the solo remix albums the two have released separately in recent years. The first true signs of life come in the mixture of head-nodding beats, swirling synths, and Cosey's soothingly savage voice on "Celph." "Infect Us" recalls everything I've loved out of Chris & Cosey, its sexual tension steaming up my speakers as I daydream of pornographic scenes of strip clubs and orgies. Their music has always catered to my perverse side, and this performance does not disappoint. My excitement truly peaked when the ritualistic flair and 4/4 beats of "Apocalipzo" spilled from my stereo, building me up for the hot white orgasm delivered on "Exotikah." Remarkably true to the original, the classic track retains the duo's passion for the electro and techno sounds they spawned and is a satisfying treat for listeners. While so many electroclash bands try to mimic the sounds of the 80's, loudmouths like Peaches and the girls of W.I.T. could learn a lot from the subtlety offered by these originators and forefathers on this live album. I've certainly learned a lot from them, and I look forward to gaining insight into what their future output has to offer. - Gary Suarez
RACHEL'S, "SYSTEMS / LAYERS"
Dreams never end. Savage freedom time has begun in avenues all lined with trees. Times have been strange. Do you hear her enlightened laughter? Another reason to cut off an ear? Maybe not. Blixa Bargeld mused upon beauty in the night sky over Berlin, but decided that no arms would ever be able to stretch wide enough to form an adequate gesture to capture beauty. Beauty, he decided, remained in the impossibilities of the body. Rachel's music is a music of such heavenly beauty they must be tapped into something primal, way deeper than mere chord charts and floating tailed black dots on lines. Their logo includes a crescent moon emblem, recalling a darkness before dawn or a sweet scented flower just beginning to bloom. Jason Noble used to play guitar and holler for those monster bird rockers Rodan, who were sacrificed on the alt-rock altar a little too early. Maybe he cut out the noble heart of the beast and transported it into a rotating chamber ensemble in perfect harmony. He was definitely running on the same line as me at Shellac's All Tomorrow's Parties. Rachel's enchanted and transfixed that weekend, but Systems / Layers is even more gorgeous than that singular performance suggested. Their last album Significant Others was a rare bird - the only time I ever saw it was that weekend. They've taken some of the minimal play from that and put it into a more luscious frame, guilded by a theatrical group called SITI. Rachel's pulled an improvising system known as "The Viewpoint" into their orbit and they seem to have caught a glimpse of the music of the spheres. Rachel's discovered a lot, learning new ways of creating and communicating. Singer Shannon Wright helped significantly, singing such a quietly lost yet deeply hopeful song as ever there was. Peel the layers of an onion and tears run down, but there are no tears as the leaves of a lettuce fall and cover routine systems of dreary urban life, and as they rot let roses and chrysanthemums bloom through cracked concrete. Rachel's transports me to emerald woodland glades in a primitive dream where words are no longer necessary. There is so much warmth and compassion in Rachel's music it could burn away all the impurity in the blackest heart. To describe this music in the way of a regular review would debase it and spoil it's magic. Then the song became alive - so glorious! - Graeme Rowland
Like any artist that is this intentionally outlandish and exaggerated, Peaches runs the risk of alienating the critics and audience who once embraced her. Even I am not entirely certain how much of my fondness for her music is attributable to the camp novelty image she cultivates and how much is actually based on the quality of the music itself. The chunky, minimal Roland 505 beats and breathy sex-raps that dominated The Teaches of Peaches were certainly unique, but upon repeated spins the joke wore a little thin. Peaches makes a bid for continued cult success with her insolently titled self-produced sophomore album Fatherfucker. The title operates as a provocatively obscene backlash against the frequent use of the derogatory 'motherfucker' in hip-hop music. The new songs expand the sound palette
a little, trying to embellish the stark asceticism of the first album, but for the most part they retain the energy and brazen sex appeal. The brief onslaught of "I Don't Give a?" opens the album, based around a looped sample lifted from Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation," with Peaches repeatedly assuring us "I don't give a fuck!/I don't give a shit!" Peaches gets back into familiar territory with the sexy, minimal electro of "I'm The Kinda" spouting off goofy self-aggrandizing lyrics: "I'm the kinda bitch that you wanna get with/Sodom and Gomorrha/Today and tomorrow".
Several of the shorter tracks emulate the dumbed-down Detroit sound of Adult., serving as largely forgettable filler. "Kick It" features a much-vaunted collaboration with proto-punk legend Iggy Pop, who returns the favor for Peaches' involvement with his recent Skull Ring album. The most surprising revelation listening to this track
is that Peaches somehow manages to upstage the venerable Mr. Pop, joyously stomping all over his vocals with repeated howls of "Tear it up/Rip it up/Kick it up." "Shake Yer Dix" is this album's bubblegum anthem, a splendidly idiotic call to arms, or in this case, a call to gonads. "Stuff Me Up" is a favorite of Peaches' recent live shows, a creepy micro-electro track featuring labelmate Taylor Savvy, that contains one of her dirtiest lyrical double-entendres. "Rock n' Roll" utilizes an actual three-piece punk group for an anarchistic Stooges-style bachannalia. Perhaps Fatherfucker is just another spoke in her menstrual cycle, and for many the novelty may have already worn off, but Peaches has created another awesomely lewd platter for all of the like-minded, skittle-diddling perverts that make up her peculiar demographic. - Jonathan Dean
The Caretaker, "We'll All Go Riding on a Rainbow"
V/VM Test Records
There's something unspeakable wandering the halls of a deserted hotel somewhere in the past and its sound has been captured so that all can know it. Salvaged from dusty records in plain white and brown sleeves, these recordings take a decidedly darker stroll into the halls of forgotten happiness and celebration. The Caretaker has managed to take the deserted and neglected and give them new life by expanding their sound: horns blasting for the satisfaction of dancing men and women are slowed down to funeral marches and the static and hiss of old records become the wind and rain as it toils outside the windows of a shining and elegant ballroom. There's an element of surgery in The Caretaker's approach: that which must've seemed so vibrant and brimming with life is torn open so reveal something betraying that image inside. Everyone had their demons at this party and each of them were quite desperate to hide that little part of themselves; fear had its axe in everyone's back. But there's more going on here than just psychological investigation: The Caretaker strips back a little bit of reality to reveal the void underneath everything. This explains the reason for all the sounds being so spacious: voices extended into the unintelligible, drums turned into drones and smoke, and strings diminished to hollow wails. The good news is that the fear never becomes too great and the void never feels all-consuming. The sounds and sights to be found on this release can be explored with confidence: whatever it is that is lurking through these distorted and destroyed melodies certainly cannot cause any permanent damage, right? Even this seems uncertain, really. "And The Bands Played On" is a reminder that nothing is for certain and that whatever certainty is assumed is truly dangerous. From start to finish, We'll All Go Riding on a Rainbow is filled with absolutely haunting and unmitigated sound. There are points when it is impossible to tell whether the sounds being heard are really from a lost record or from some lurking and abnormal creature not subject to a name or description. - Lucas Schleicher
EPs are a tough sell. Ounce for ounce, this is probably Jonas Munk's best release. It combines all of his best skills in four songs which naturally play out with a complete indifference to a 4-6 minute unwritten guideline for album collections of 8-10 songs. At 24 minutes, it's the perfect amount of time to experiment without wearing out your welcome. In addition, it's a good breather from the wealth of output that's not been the easiest to keep up with. However, priced as high as it is (and as most EPs are), it'll probably be his least heard. On the (not-so-ironically titled) opener "A Familiar Place," Munk hasn't stepped far from the sounds and styles of his other output: simple but lush, heavily emotional, slightly pitch-bent synth melodies loop in time with a steady pulse and musical electronic percussion. Both here and on "Wake," angelic female vocals have been added, but the addition is never oppressive nor distracting from the music. On "Stealing Through," and "Horizon," however, Munk takes a step in removing elements, yanking beats out completely and leaving the former as a simple guitar piece with faint echoes and the latter as a stunning 8½ minute gem of bright swelling synths that are as blinding and gorgeous as a setting sun. With this, I look forward to hearing the direction Manual moves on to but at the same time, I'm patiently satisfied for now. - Jon Whitney
ms. john soda, "while talking"
Much like Manual, this EP release follows suit from a notable full-length release also on Morr Music last year. However, the chances taken here almost (but don't quite) work for me. The production is fantasticthe inclusion of cello, other voices, sound effects, and non-traditional instruments is a warm variety to the ingredients. It compliments the music nicely but somehow the songs just don't sound that strong. The lead song, "No. One" is an upbeat maximalistic rocker which is decent but not nearly as catchy as some of the highlights of Ms. John Soda's debut album (the counting vocals and frequent stops aren't much more than a mild annoyance), while the second track, "Sometimes Stop, Sometimes Go" has some beautiful moments. Each, however, are sort of ruined by Stephanie's frequent talking. She's got such an alluring singing voice that I wish she would only sing these tracks rather than hide behind spoken word interludes. The third cut, "I & #8217" begins as a mishmash of sounds and samples from the No P or D album, but as it's re-pasted back together, vocals and additional instruments are added by Subtle (which features unnamed Anticon members - although Dose One's voice is clearly audible). It's an interesting concept but at four minutes doesn't sound like it's beed explored to the full extent. The disc continues with the creepy late-night car wreck devastation score in the form of the slow moving "If Someone Would Know," and closes the almost unbearingly heavy dialogue of "I think it could work, Marilyn," where Stephanie is almost playing dolly, talking as the fictitious voices of Elvis and Marilyn in a situation far more interesting to read about than to hear. I honestly hope this is the last they come this close to making a "spoken word" record. The good thing about the EP is that it's been made with the intentions of selling on the upcoming European and North American shows: shows I'm anxiously looking forward to. I remain enthusiastic and firmly believe that this EP, while mildly anticlimactic, isn't going to lose any existing fans at all. - Jon Whitney
Chris Brokaw, "Wandering as Water"
Return to Sender
Chris Brokaw is known to many as a founding member of Come, and more recently as a member of Consonant and the New Year, though he has played drums and guitar wherever needed on a number of releases from Pullman to Evan Dando's latest solo effort. Last year he made his solo debut on Red Cities, showing off for the first time his skills at songwriting with his already established abilities on guitar. The limited edition Wandering as Water is the subtle follow-up, part of the Return to Sender series that showcases vibrant artists in their rawest form. For Brokaw that meant recording fifteen songs in one day, played on guitar and tambourine. Some songs are his, some familiar favorites from his Come days, but they're all fueled by his very quiet and solid musicianship. It's a calm, soothing record in most places, and Brokaw divides it evenly with instrumental and vocal tracks. Where he has a capable voice, it is on the tracks where he doesn't sing that Brokaw has the most success. His guitar playing is fluid and energetic. The sounds of a small town life escape from the speakers, of simpler times when all you needed was a nickel at the country store. Considering the minimal percussion, it's also incredible how full these songs sound, and for the most part there isn't a flaw to speak of. On the songs with vocals, Brokaw stumbles a bit, where his inflections and notes can warble or even slightly irritate: "My Confidante," with its opening of "I threw up on the side of the road/Thirty miles from the Poconos," is almost treacherous in every respect, particularly the howl of the chorus. Thus, it almost makes sense that until now Brokaw has been known solely as a musician, and perhaps that's why he excels at that so well. Here and there, though, the vocals work, like on Come's "Shoot Me First." It's only when he really tries for that note or over emphasizes that the car veers every so slightly into the shoulder. While I think that with a few more releases under his belt, his singing and songwriting will undoubtedly both improve, on repeat listens of Wandering, however, I'll probably just stick to the instrumentals. - Rob Devlin
Dan Matz, "Carry Me Over"
It's always funny to hear how environments affect certain albums, from the way the musicians felt to the actual physical environs of the space. One recent winter, Dan Matz was in an upstate New York farmhouse after a horrendous snow storm. There was no power, and all he had was an acoustic guitar and dulcimer, and a friend who played piano to see it out. So, they wrote and played some songs to pass the time. When the power finally returned, it was time to record these songs that had kept them company for the past few days. Carry Me Over is the result, and it sounds just like what I'd expect given the circumstances under which is was composed. There is a stark beauty to the arrangements, with very few instruments and virtually no percussion. A chill passes through these songs, mostly due to the haunting male-female vocals and the minor key progressions, but there is also a closeness, as though people are trying to keep warm. Matz and Anna Neighbor play and sing with a staid and complacent nature, as though this delicate music will break them if they let it out too much. They sing songs as poetry and prose, as declarations and pleas, urging and convincing at the same time they are weak and afraid. Matz has a very calm and smooth though untrained voice, which means most notes come out solid with minor cracks, a fitting addition to the music that has the same qualities. "Downpour" is a perfect pop song, with multi-tracked vocals and keyboards to accompany the deliberate guitar strums and drums. The title track and "Matthew" also approach this beauty, with an all-encompassing sanguinity and human frailty. Other tracks feature eerie choirs, reverb, and bare vocals that inject just enough variety to please even the most stubborn with at least one song. As a whole it is at once a dark, pretty, warm, and barren release, and there are great songs within that show Matz isn't through crafting his brand of off-kilter pop. - Rob Devlin
Andy Wagner, "Horse Year"
Every once in a while, an artist comes along who sounds born into a sound, like while in the womb his parents played him classic records that he just absorbed into his psyche. Andy Wagner has that quality, like there's nothing else in this world he could be doing because it just wouldn't fit. This multi-instrumentalist uses guitar, keyboard, bass, and accordion to construct pop songs that defy the typical trappings to derive at something more. His breathy, Dylan-esque voice talks of death, human relationships, beginnings and ends, and all over a bed of western influences and tossed with rockabilly and country rock. The result belies the DIY formula he adheres to, as Horse Year has the feel of a solid group of players that have been polishing their skills in bars for five years, playing for crowds wading in sawdust and peanut shells. For the most part, though, Wagner wore all the hats himself, including the engineering and production work, with a scant few guests. While they add some much needed flavor, including the stable drumming of Mark Benson, this is Wagner's show, and rightfully so. Narrative and introspective, he has the presence of a soul who will be writing and recording for a long time. "Weak in the Knees" and "Something's Watching" speak of the inevitable day many of us spend most of our lives trying to pretend will never come, with the latter infusing just enough scare tactics. The ambling waltz and saloon piano of "Nothing to Defend" and "When I Leave" with its shuffle and faded accordion are definite highlights, but this album belongs to "What You Used to Be," all echoed guitar and steady rhythm over laments of the past. Wagner is also a member of the Delta Still, and also works in Chicago area theatre, but this well-crafted debut shows he has the ability to overshadow it all like the dark side of the moon with his own work. - Rob Devlin
All Tomorrow's Parties
Earlier this year Autechre curated the fifth All Tomorrow's Parties festival, and of that bounty comes this, actually the fourth ATP compilation. All Tomorrow's Parties comps have never been more than glorified mixtapes ("ultimate" mixtapes according to Thurston Moore), thoughtfully scratching the surface of one of the best large-scale concert series; Autechre's volume, though, is the first with potential to transcend its posterity-building, afterthought status, becoming an (almost) essential collection. This is the first double-disc (or album) of the ATP comps, making the odds of finding something compelling even greater. This is also the first ATP comp to focus almost entirely, and understandably so, on the electronic realm, giving it, though twice as long, a common thread that was lacking on the first two, curated by Sonic Youth and Shellac. An increased cohesiveness is particularly achieved in the sequencing of the tracks across the two discs. Disc one is undoubtedly more of a "daytime" collection. It begins with two hip-hop songs, the first new material from Public Enemy and the second a stellar remix of the Masters of Illusion track "Bay-Bronx Bridge," a Bollywood-breakified gem that would be at home in a DJ/rupture mix for sure. Two hip-hop infected instrumental tracks follow, by Autechre's upbeat alter ego Gescom and Miami's Push Button Objects, whose "ATP track" features sitar plucking and operatic vocals floating above a cracklin' beat. These songs are "pop" enough to follow the hip-hop and segue nicely into a laptop piece from Jim O'Rourke sounding like the more pleasant bits of recent Fenn O'Berg stuff. This is music for relaxing in the backyard after an afternoon of driving around with the beginning of this disc in the ghetto blaster. Two Autechrian, yet nonabrasive tracks from O.S.T. and Made begin the evening's journey into night. Somewhat uneventful, these leave room for the third and final hip-hop track, this time from Kool Keith's ! Dr. Dooom, whose "Leave Me Alone" is a hilarious tirade against the music industry containing one show- stopping verse that begins, "Why you think I should wear a motorcycle helmetwhy don't you wear it?" Detroit techno guru Steve Pickton's Stasis project closes disc one with a wonderful piece blending spacious drones into rumbling electro and beginning a trip to the dancefloor that will be continued on the second disc.
More of a "nighttime" disc, with most of its tracks primed for the dark spaces of the dancefloor, disc two kicks off with one of its nicest surprises, faceless technoid Anthony 'Shake' Shakir's "Ghetto Futures," a track whose slashing breaks sound played by a live army. A fragile, beautiful track from Disjecta (Seefeel's Mark Clifford) allows a brief moment of peace before the beefy, though unremarkable techno throbbings of Baby Ford and Mark Broom. A lengthy and exceptionally soothing Pita track begins the final and most abstract segment of the comp. Surprises herein include an Autechre track that, despite its title ("/]-/](II)"), is relatively accessible, even danceable, and a sprawling new track from Sub Pop sludge/drone stoners Earth. The typically harsh stylings of Bola (one of four Skam artists on this comp) and Hecker round off the disc in predictable, though enjoyable fashion. If ATP comps of the future provide the same variety, tempered by the same degree of cohesion and consistency evident here, these collections may become as valuable as tickets to the events themselves. - Andrew Culler
"DFA RECORDS COMPILATION #1"
The production team of James Murphy and Tim Goldsworthy has been the object of some of the most exalted praise that the music press is capable of bestowing. Their productions and remixes as The DFA and the string of releases on the DFA label have been so hyped and oversold that it's rather hard to wade through all of the hyperbole and just enjoy the music, which is unfortunate, because more often than not it is extraordinary. Building their reputation on a series of incredible 12" releases by the new wave of post-punk and mutant disco-influenced groups such as The Rapture, The Juan Maclean and LCD Soundsystem, they have also branched out into decidedly more experimental territories, releasing a full-length LP and a 12" single by the psychedelic noise-metal improvisers Black Dice. Tracking down their sought-after releases has been a little difficult since the explosion of press attention, so the idea of a CD collecting their 12" output is an appealing proposition. Unfortunately, DFA's Compilation #1 seriously jumps the shark, as it is far from a complete collection, with glaring omissions and some annoying inclusions. For a relatively young label that has released only seven singles, you'd think that they would be able to include all seven tracks and even b-sides on this collection. However, they omit almost all of the b-sides (except for the mysterious inclusion of The Rapture's b-side "Silent Morning"), and bizarrely choose to include an incongruous 15-minute noise track from Black Dice's Beaches and Canyons LP. Plus, the disc is short at only about 60 minutes. If they had removed the extraneous Black Dice track and used up the rest of the space on the disc, they could have included The Rapture's new "Killing" single, the killer LCD Soundsystem b-side "Beat Connection," the hallucinatory EYE remix of Black Dice's "Endless Happiness," and maybe even the Morgan Geist remix of The Rapture's "House of Jealous Lovers." Instead, we have a disc made up of most (not all) of the a-sides, and two rather bizarre songs that shouldn't be included. I have no complaint with the music, however. The Juan Maclean's dirty, bottom-heavy electro-disco tracks are infectious and charming, without being too heavy-handedly retro. LCD Soundsystem's "Losing My Edge," a hilarious minimal electro ode to hipper-than-thou indie cred, sounds as great as ever. The Rapture's "House of Jealous Lovers" is still one of the best raw, energetic dance-punk songs you could hope to hear on a crowded dance floor. Black Dice's primitive metal-scrapings and This Heat-style abrasive madness make "Cone Toaster" a terrific avant-rock side. However, the distinguishing music consumer is much better off staying away from this woefully incomplete "compilation", and instead trying to track down the original 12" releases, which boast amazing b-sides, remixes and the same level of audio fidelity. The DFA's Compilation #1 is, sadly, a missed opportunity. - Jonathan Dean
AURELIE, "DESDE QUE NACI"
Two enigmatic men from the centre of Britain want to take you on a magical mystery tour. Imagine sitting on a train. As it pulls out of the grimey station the motion rocks you half asleep, into that semi-dream state where shifting realities collide and merge. A chime, a drone and an accelerating heartbeat cross the tracks. The ultimate destination is bright light, but the journey glitters, as you pass rolling hills and emerald forests, out into the wasteland where the sun is blinding and obscures vision. The name Aurelie was chosen for this trip due to its phonetic beauty, and since beauty is hard to describe orally and lies in the eye, it has to be heard aurally. Make no mistake this is beautiful music, finding hope in the loss of each passing landscape. This trip is the perfect one to take out of the crowded city that inspired labelmate Akatombo. Aurelie are a much more delicate yet equally dreamy proposition, and the final dronesongs on Trace Elements almost lead into the opening chimes of Desde Que Naci. Swim, run by Colin Newman of Wire and Malka Spigel of the recently reformed Minimal Compact, now has such a strong roster with an over-riding future music quality aesthetic that it'd be no joke to hail them as the un-UK's finest record label. Whilst Aurelie are certainly out there dreaming their own pure visions, there is some room for comparison with Colin and Malka's mighty Immersion duo, and maybe fellow middle Englanders Magnetophone. Aurelie is however more subtle then either, but it would be a mistake to call this ambient or chill out because Aurelie's warmth and drive are all too human. Once again Swim have given us music beyond genre boundaries, from a time that wasn't a time. - Graeme Rowland
Dieb13/Pure/Siewert, "Just In Case You Are Bored. So Are We."
It was a shock to me to find out that this was recorded live. The architecture of the whole album is so well constructed that I was sure it was a studio album when I first listened to it. After paying attention to the liner notes, I realized that this was all done as a performance without the help of editing. The music itself is a series of background drones recalling the feeling of winds blowing across a vast desert, ominous hums that, for some reason, remind me of stormtroopers and weaponry approaching over the horizon, and various found sounds tossed about as if in a blender. Here and there a guitar plucks some melodic but repetitive notes and builds a tension already present to a nice crescendo. The various sounds that cut into the wavering background range from the aquatic and metallic to the sci-fi and terrestrial. What's interesting is that after repeated listens they begin to sound like melodies of noise. Either this is the result of lucky improvisation or it was a well-planned effect. In either case, there's something fairly impressive about the way these sounds are manipulated and used. Backwards flutes and brief bursts of female voices either singing or talking cut into metallic chunks being ground together. The tension between these two samples resolves itself into the sound of car horns pitched and extended creating a harmony between the crunchy sounds of natural resources and the resonance of musical elements. The two tracks here are quite long and can have some uneventful stretches but these are usually brief and do little to distract from the captivating moments. Did I mention that much of what is featured here is done on turntables? I'm not quite sure how the sounds on this record were achieved by turntables and I doubt that they weren't filtered and disturbed live by Pure and Martin Siewert but there's really no indication that anything on this record was made with the help of vinyl. The mystery, the music, the noise, and the overall atmosphere on Just In Case... are excellent and worth coming back to again and again because each listen brings out something new. - Lucas Schleicher
Richard Devine, "Asect:Dsect"
If you haven't heard any of Richard Devine's recorded output up to now, this album is a great place to jump on. Devine has always pushed the envelope of what his tools can do, and with Asect:Dsect we are treated to a version of Devine as mad tinkerer that remains interesting on successive listens the way that some other DSP records do not. Devine's previous outings Lipswitch and Aleamapper visited the extremes of his take on music. The former was a million-mile an hour beat and squiggle fest that was notably absent of a center reference point; a soundtrack for ADD if ever there was one. By contrast, the latter was an exercise in micro-detail exploding out into vast expanses of reverb that demonstrated that there was more to the reigning king of DSP than wonky beats and 128th note programming. With Asect:Dsect, Devine has managed to bring the best elements of those previous records together in a way that is both more accessible and more carefully exploratory at the same time. It's easy to imagine the harsh and often mechanical rhythms that Devine eeks out as simply the music made by machines with Devine at the helm, trying to keep up. But in reality, though his soundscapes and polyrhythms are impossibly inhuman, machines would never make music this confounding. Machines don't take chances, but Devine does and Asect:Dsect is full of imaginative bursts that betray their digital genesis. This is futurism in one of the only ways that it can still be realized in a post-modern world. It's data-rich, full of leaping off points and connecting nodes that take one idea leap over two or three more, and return the listener to the start with a new sense of the territory waiting to be explored. Anyone who has ever clicked through link after link on the web and wound up on a site so arcane that it seems as though it must exist outside the network will understand the kind of journey that Devine is on here. Not every path is a complete success, and in places the experimentation bogs down the beats and synths with a feeling of sensory overload that works against the grain. But most of the time, the songs serve as little soundtracks for synapses firing that even those uninitiated to the world of powerbook rock will understand. There are even moments here that are beautiful, sparse, or understated--three adjecties not usually associated with Devine's brand of electronica. By the album's closer, the tempo has dropped, the melodies have bubbled up to the fore, and the percussion that previously ricocheted as though it were recorded inside a hypercube has settled down to a slow and steady head-nodding groove. Devine's greatest accomplishment with Asect:Dsect is not the volume of plug-ins used or the much-touted 24 bit 96khz production value, but the greater sense of musicality he has brought to game. We are used to classical music that strives to capture a place or time in history through the orchestration of sound, and Devine is working squarely in that tradition. The trick is that he's realized the perfect soundtrack to a time we haven't yet experienced, a futurist fresco of sorts, and diving into that can be confusing to say the least. Everyone should have at least one Richard Devine album to experience the far reaches of sound design at the juncture of human creativity and enabling technology. If you are going to get just one Devine record, make it this one (for now).- Matthew Jeanes
V/Vm present "It's Fan-Dabi-Dozi!"
V/Vm Test Records
What a mess! Pig entrails and mash-ups? Demented children and piracy? Who's going to clean up this sticky filth? Certainly not me! To attempt to review a compilation of forty six tracks from various artists (who aren't all V/Vm alter-egos) related to and enjoyed by V/Vm over two compact discs is an exercise in futility. According to the V/Vm website, contributions have come from all over the world, and considering the eclecticism displayed by these selections, I'm not surprised in the slightest. Setting the tone for this absurd and sometimes entertaining collection is the goofy title track, performed by The Krankies, who are purportedly a "sick Scottish comedy duo". Unfortunately, this awkward children's song is a highlight on this uneven compilation. Somewhat dull rock music bastardizations and bland noisescapes are served here in heaping portions by several no-name acts probably better off being unknown. The only tracks here that get my attention and praise are the pop and rap bootleg mixes. Toecutter's "DMX On Tick" takes the gruff rapper's standard shouts and turns them into a glitchy freakout. Skkatter thrashes the BT-produced 'NSYNC track "Dirty Pop" with potent DSP fuckery. I would be remiss in my duties as a contributor to this fine publication if I did not mention Kevin Blechdom's tribute to our fair-skinned editor-in-chief Jon Whitney. "Jon Whitney Houston" is a touching, sentimental tribute to the man we call Mom, a wonderful cover of "I Will Always Love You" sung word for word. All gushing aside, this really is an iffy release from the V/Vm camp. After their tributes to love, Aphex Twin, and The Shining, I expect more from this shapeless collective of mad hatters and super goons. - Gary Suarez
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