Cagesan: I Love Machine

O.Lamm: Monolith
Audio Dregs

O.Lamm's third full-fledged album Monolith offers ADD-inspired insanity so dizzying it makes Drop The Lime and Kid606 sound wheelchair-bound by comparison. Squirrelly Gameboy melodies ricochet across splattering beats and buzzing bass lines while Japanese vocalists (Kumi Okamoto, Midori Hirano, Nobuko Hori, and Lullatone's Yoshimi Tonida) coo and chirp above the mayhem. In “Open Malice,” Zoé Wolf purrs a smoky, debonair vocal over a bleepy hailstorm of Mantronix beats and jackhammer voice edits while Momus' voice gets the Cuisinart treatment during the electro raver “Syllabus of Errors.” Perhaps the album's most ambitious composition, “Silviphobia” segues through various ballad (including a Japanese folk treatment of “Good King Wenceslas”) and funk episodes. O.Lamm spreads his stylistic wings widely with tracks veering into arcade electro, glass-shattering breakcore, lurching stutter-funk, romping ‘80s techno, and house territories, not to mention a warped hoedown romp (“Tammy Metempsycho Darling”). It's an oft- disorienting and wholly hyperactive ride yet there's no denying O.Lamm's programming wizardry and endlessly inventive imagination; best of all, no matter how spasmodic the tracks become, the France-based electronic musician never loses sight of the material's core musicality.

O.Lamm also contributes one of the better tracks to Cagesan's I Love Machine, a wacky fifteen-song collection of dada-styled mayhem. The conceit here is that Cagesan is a bird, specifically a Tasmanian Bicheno finch, whose debut album was generated in collaboration with an international group of electronic musicians (mostly French), each of whom produced a song based on the bird's singing. Whether or not Cagesan is a bird or the brainchild of illustrator Florence Manlik and musician Toog, bird twitter and chirps (which, incidentally, resemble a lamb's bleat, chimp's chatter, cat's meow, and even a squeezed rubber toy as much as they do bird calls) recur throughout, ensuring that the disparate parts retain a sense of unity. The music is playful and eccentric in the extreme, heavily indebted to arcade synth-pop and musique-concrète (Beatles' and Buggles' samples surface too), and successful more often than not (only MC Cat Genius's grotesque “Manteau de ville” grates). Cagesan's aviary includes arcade pop (Digiki, a sound artist based in Tokyo) and mercurial collages that mix nature sounds with keyboard melodies (Toog); Cubist Literature's (Craig Hunter Husted) “Parure royale” sounds like three-year-olds left unattended in a musical instrument showroom. It's not all craziness: remove the layers of fluttering noise from O.Lamm's “Écharpe et bonnet” and Olga's “Cape San de lumière” and you'll find rather charming examples of melodic electropop (Olga's more delicate moments even recalls Lullatone). Imagine the album that might have resulted had dadaists Max Ernst, Man Ray, and Marcel Duchamp played with samplers and software rather than cameras and paint and you'll have a fairly good impression of Cagesan's sound.

April 2007