Izu: Going Salamander
Highpoint Lowlife

Unspooling ferociously with an industrial-strength wallop, Izu's Going Salamander shares certain qualities with Frightened by the Familiar, a recent album by another Highpoint alumnus Rashamon (issued on Lee Hume's own Passive Aggressive label). The two discs share IDM-electronic roots but more pointedly explode with energy, their robust tracks eager to get moving and the breaks in between next to invisible. Such qualities add a lot, as the two artists don't revolutionize the genre with their respective releases yet still spin commanding variations upon it.

Nothing sluggish about the material, that's for sure, with Izu (Glaswegian Ronnie MacPherson) dropping eleven raucous tracks that'll hold your interest and then some—no surprise either that Izu's dark, relentless sound grew out of MacPherson's love for Black Dog, FSOL, and early ‘90s rave (“The Wrong Sun,” to name one, could have fit snugly onto Dead Cities without anyone raising an eyebrow). Scythian blades stab mercilessly over a slamming base in the brutal opener “Litterball,” and it's hard not to jaw-drop when the squelchy squalor of “Polish Trouble” detonates (run for cover, too, when its chipmunk MC starts raging); got to love, too, the filthy beat crunch and light-speed voice cut-ups in “I Gotcha.” Rude doesn't necessarily mean crude, however, as there's more than enough finesse beneath the skuzzy surface (the sweet melody cruising over the barbed-wire breaks in “Jumpers,” for instance). Going Salamander's more Kid 606 than Alva Noto but no one said electronic music need only be tasteful and austere. Izu brings a laudable manic intensity to a genre that's often too polite for its own good.

April 2006