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WHEN, "WRITER CAKEBOX - 1983-1998"

When is Lars Pedersen, longtime solo artist and former member of '80s experimental/industrial pioneers Holy Toy.
 Pedersen began recording as When in 1983 and to date has a back catalog of 7 albums. "WriterCakebox" is a 2 disc retrospective of those albums as well as a collection of numerous soundtrack, compilation and/or previously unreleased tracks. There's a lot to explore here with over 148 minutes of music spanning 15 years and numerous projects. I first became aware of When via the bizarre collage and pop of 1999's "Psychedelic Wunderbaum", also on Norway's Jester Records. When's previous work is in the same sort of surrealist sample vein, minus the psychedelic pop aspect. Anything and everything is a source for sound: orchestras (sampled and 'real'), drones, whistles, bells,rain, footsteps, music boxes, typewriters, animals, acoustic guitar, choirs,dialogue, chants, noise ... the list is practically endless. Pedersen's talent really shines on the soundtrack minded collage/soundscape pieces. He skillfully pieces together cohesive and dynamic tracks, some dark and ominous, some subtle and beautiful, others cartoon like or just plain weird. The songs from the '80s (ten of which have English vocals) are hit and miss and most sound dated now due to the gear used. I prefer the more recent 'pop' oriented songs like those found on "Psychedelic Wunderbaum". The packaging for this set is very sharp, as is all Jester product, with a 10 page insert with full color collage artwork and brief comments on many of the tracks. Altogether, "WriterCakebox" is a fascinating journey through an artist's repertoire, an artist you've most likely never heard and should. When's past only makes me more curious as to what When's future has instore.