Curtis Chip: Eating Paste
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Curtis Chip merges bright, 8-bit electro melodies with fulminating clatter on his first full-length Eating Paste, a collection pairing six tracks from his similarly-titled Zod 12-inch with seven remixes by BinRay, Eight Frozen Modules, Enduser, Xanopticon, Larvae, Ove Naxx, and Tarmvred. Chip's a drummer of long standing who often slices samples of his playing into ridiculously complex beat constructions, and his background also includes a stint playing bass in a death-metal band prior to the move into electronic territory. While the heavy percussive emphasis on many tracks doesn't surprise, then, the album also reveals Chip's gift for simple yet memorable melodies, a talent that distinguishes considerably his frantic breakcore workouts. Consider “Eating Paste” a representative example. Not surprisingly, there's no shortage of shredded clatter and strafing noises, yet the pulverized beats never entirely banish the song's core, a dramatic hook which persists throughout; even when the track escalates in its latter half to more manic levels, it never loses the melodic glue holding it together. Also noteworthy is “Happy Days” where Chip floats a lovely string-like figure over ferocious beats in a manner that at times recalls Squarepusher, plus “That's Not It At All” where the emphasis gradually expands beyond the song's pinprick pounding to include a dark melodic dimension; with its graceful electronic theme, the beatless interlude “Secret Intermission” is also effective.

When the focus shifts too much to pummeling beats and the melodic dimension threatens to disappear altogether (“Cars Are Awesome,” “Head With No Body”), Chip's music impresses less; a similar tendency afflicts some of the remixes too. Binray's “Eating Paste” overhaul is dominated by mashed pinball skitter with only skeletal traces of the original melody retained, making it an impressive but ultimately less satisfying construction than the original; blistering mixes by Ove Naxx (“Happy Days”) and Tarmvred (“That's Not It At All”) reveal a similar obsession with cranium-shattering cacophony with the originals' melodies again all but lost beneath the caterwaul. Considerably more satisfying, on the other hand, is Larvae's hip-hop “Eating Paste” treatment which finds the original's 8-bit motif now hijacked by a robust dub bass line, while Enduser's funky breakcore mix of “Happy Days” proves the equal to Chip's original. By this stage, it should be obvious that Eating Paste is at its best—and that's often enough, thankfully—when both Chip and his guests devote equal attention to obsessive beat sculpting and melodic hooks.

February 2005