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The Missteps and Magnificence of “Glitch” Music: Radical Turf Presents: "Hello Future?" PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Wednesday, 21 February 2007 02:23

Radical Turf presents Showcasing acts from around the United States (including a number of Quad Cities-area contributors), Hello Future? is the latest compilation from Radical Turf, the label of local musician and producer Jeff Konrad. Touted as a "grab bag" of electronic-oriented music, Hello Future? is just that: There are some treats that are keepers and some that will stay in the bottom of the bag.

One of the definite treats on Hello Future? is Konrad's own contribution, "Osh Kosh." With plenty of electronic burps and hiccups to showcase the lighter side of electronic experimentation, "Osh Kosh" is a carefully crafted synth-pop track that flutters along like heart-shaped clouds over a sea of Alka-Seltzer.

Too often electronic music becomes bogged down by cobbled-together sound bites, loops, and beats. But on "Airplay" Michael Taylor takes a minimalist approach. Outside of a few static crashes and tinny crackles, there's not much to fill the space between the occasional squeaky tone. "Airplay" is what one hopes to discover when experimenting with computerized sounds.

"Night Life" by Synaptic Flow sounds like your standard techno track - new layers are added in a predictable pattern, the BPM is almost second-nature - but it's no less engaging for its familiarity. A drawback to machine-generated sounds is that they often sound sterile, processed, but "Night Life" manages to sound vibrant by adding some wordless vocals to the mix.

One of the more intriguing tracks on this compilation is Lens' "Night Drop." Appropriately dark and somber, "Night Drop" makes excellent use of a sampled jazz piano, synthetic whistles, and an intermittent bass beat. Taken in pieces, it's a real hodgepodge of noises, but as a whole "Night Drop" reveals something new with each listen.

Relying more on glitches and blips than sampled beats and loops, "1971" is a marriage of hip hop and glitch pop. Processed beats replace the typical sampled beats found in hip hop. Caustic Crush's style of rap recalls alternative rapper MF Doom. Understated and stuttered rhymes offer a second, asynchronous rhythm that complements the skitterish clicks and pops.

A few of the tracks here sound like little more than a collection of the beats and bleeps packaged with your Apple iBook. Production Unit Xero's "Dex" could have been an Aphex Twin outtake - a good idea, but poorly executed. The same is true of the Middle Eastern dub of Ubzorb's "Sacred Whore"; it owes much of its inspiration to Dead Can Dance but is itself uninspiring.

Taken as a whole, Hello Future? is an interesting listen, as it shows the pitfalls and follies of electronic music, as well as capturing some of its more successful adventures.

 

Hello Future? will be available starting March 6 through Radical Turf records. Copies will be available at CDBaby, iTunes, Yahoo! Music, Amazon, and a number of local retailers. Visit (http://www.radicalturf.com) for more information.

 

Culley Smith is a music writer and runs a local Web site (http://www.theairstrange.com) devoted to promoting the local music scene.


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