Lowfish: 1000 Corrections Per Second
Suction Records

The Mitgang Audio: The View From Your New Home
Suction Records

Following upon its exceptional Snow Robots Volume 3 compilation, Toronto-based Suction Records pushes forward with two equally lush examples of 'Robot Music' with releases from Suction co-founder Gregory de Rocher (Lowfish) and Ray Sweeten (The Mitgang Audio). Of the two, it's de Rocher's that's more straightforward. While his precision machine music is rooted in the music of ‘80s synth icons like OMD, Giorgio Moroder, and Human League (not to mention 'early' Autechre and Aphex Twin), there's nothing dated about electronic music this fresh. 1000 Corrections Per Second starts at a peak with “Glass House,” a euphoric slice of electro-synth pop, and follows it with twelve more tracks of similarly fine caliber. Other highlights include the soaring melodic pop of “Fric Frac,” the dueling synth patterns of “Around the Neck,” and the funky, dark electro of “Colder” whose pulverizing bass synths and percussive thwacks underpin a melancholy melody that would do Kraftwerk proud.

Compared to the Lowfish disc, The Mitgang Audio's debut, The View From Your New Home, is equally satisfying if more stylistically wide-ranging and ambitious. Like de Rocher's, ‘Minor Causes' begins the album at a high level as it moves between synth episodes that alternately grind and soar heavenly. There's no shortage of electropop in the Suction style, but there's also downtempo introspection (“Passenger Perspective”), breezy electrofunk (“Forme”), stately melancholia (“Soldato”), new wave synth-pop that recalls Gary Numan (“Tokyo-Scope”), and, in the most extreme case, classical baroque territory (“The Escape”'). In addition, vocals (typically vocodered, although Sweeten's natural singing voice is featured on the darkly throbbing “La Mantide”) adorn seven tracks with four sung in Italian (apparently Sweeten spent two years in residency at the Villa Fanna, Catena di Villorba). Finally, the wistful title track ends the recording on a poignant and graceful note. For synth-pop aficionados, both discs are stellar additions in spite of their differences. Stylistically, Lowfish plays it straight from start to finish while The Mitgang Audio breaks it up, but they're both commendably strong chapters in the ongoing Suction story.

December 2003