posted: May 4, 2006 category: Reviews
komposi003, the latest State of the Union release from Positron Records, is a landmark release for several reasons. Not only does it showcase the growing pool of talent that is the Positron Roster, it also heralds the first Chris Randall track and the last Sister Machine Gun track. But wait! you say, Chris Randall is Sister Machine Gun so what's the big deal? It's a paradigm shift, really. The last vestige of the Old Republic being swept away. And, with the inclusion of Scanalyzer and Micronaut tracks, there's actually a robust snapshot of the man's mindset right now. [And, to be fair, Miguel Turnazas has been an integral part in the last few records from both SMG and Micronaut.] Fortunately, for those uninterested in the dry analysis of What Was and What Is, komposi003, as a whole, is a pretty stellar collection of funkified electronics.
Starting off with a new track from Mike Fisher's Amish Rake Fight is either a brilliant or a deadly decision. Amish Rake Fight's "Artist with a Thompson" sets the bar so freakin' high, it's almost impossible for anyone else to come close. This opening salvo is a bubbling, capering ode to crackle jazz, a neuphoric homage to '40s noir that throws trumpets, a couple of wa-wa mutes, a double bass and a drum kit into a washing machine and sets it to SPIN. It's the sort of swing dancing free-for-all that makes men sweaty and ladies' skirts go wild. The tick-down of "Shame," a Wade Alin number under his Milkfish moniker, is a safe bet to follow the Rake Fight where the shuffling grit of noise filters and dubious dark alley echoes helps to tone down the high of the first track. Electronics purr and growl over the tick-tick drum kit while an atmosphere from the wrong side of the track blows smoke across the hot mic's. A laconic organ suggests there is melody living in this miasmic funk, but it is too shy to really step to the foreground.
Micronaut's "Quartz Clock" doesn't quite burn up like the recent Europa, but it slinks about playfully enough, working an indolent guitar against bubbling quartz-precision beats and a hiccuping vocal sample looped into a suggestion of a melody line. Randall's solo outing, "Be There Tonight," furthers my pet theory that he's positioning himself as the Bryan Ferry of the 21st century -- the crooner of choice for the Wasted and Wistful of the Transhuman Internet-Ready Generation. "Sink," the final Sister Machine Gun track, is an interesting coda for a band that started back in the "Rage and Disillusionment Via Industrial Guitar Noise" era. It's understandable why Randall is retiring the name: musically, he's got other interests; and, while "Sink" has the processed vocals and the undulating analog funk of 6.0, it's not a stretch to hear this as a stripped down Micronaut track with vocals strapped on top (kind of like "Perdition" on Europa, actually).
Speaking of re-inventions and resurrections, Eric Powell (of fellow "R&DVIGN" player, 16 Volt) sneaks onto komposi003 as Graphic with "The Things You Do," a sweet little number that riffs off a guttural Persian-influenced breakbeat and then sweet-talks you with a dizzying dirty boy whisper about those, you know, "things you do." It's no Romeo beneath the window speech, but it's more than enough to make you lock your daughters up at night. Adam Schabtach (chief engineer of plug-in gurus Audio Damage, Inc.) lands on komposi003 with "Terminal," a bit of swirling atmospheres, claustrophobic field recordings and Jarre-style synth -- all swoops and two-finger melodic progressions. The collection is rounded out with a pair of torch songs from Bounte and Atomica, a Micronaut reassembly of the closing track from Scott Sturgis' ambient psychedelia outing and a Scanalyzer track that burns at the edges but doesn't leave too many marks with its noise-laced electro-funk. All in all: a couple that clear the fence, a few solid hits and the rest are the handiwork of a team all working at the peak of their game.
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komposi003 @ shopPOSI