ROTFLOL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing Out Loud
Audio Dregs

One look at the Rolling On the Floor Laughing Out Loud cover and you'll already have an idea of the multi-coloured mayhem you're in for. The release is a generously stuffed CD-and-DVD package by ROTFLOL, the alias adopted by Jacob Ciocci, a multi-media artist, Extreme Animals band member, and founding member of the Paper Rad art collective whose work, regardless of medium, bursts with manic energy. The release is a supposed ‘best of' collection that pulls together music, videos, and animations from self-released cassettes, CD-Rs, seven-inch vinyl releases, and live recordings. For the record, the CD squeezes twenty-four squiggly face-melters into sixty-five minutes, and the DVD is a totally mad, thirty-two-minute collage of grainy videos, animation, and found footage.

The CD material, which Ciocci produced using vintage Casio keyboards and electronics, is high-spirited, and resolutely and refreshingly non-po-faced. It's music more fit for Pee-Wee's Playhouse than the Guggenheim, a collection of trash compactor tunes made with lo-fi means —think Garageband, not Ableton (one tune's even titled “Apple's Garage Jamband Session (excerpt)”). The first track alone, “Lost Inside The Stress Boxes, The Movie,” sets the stage with a blitzkrieg of neon-lit Casio melodies and drum machine beats. Elsewhere, the funky “Ghost Forest Night Rave” gets down with club-ready grooves, “Gifs vs. Sprites” flirts with downtempo head-nod, and “No Fear” straddles bruising acid-funk and roller-rink New Wave. He's wise to break up the predictable flow by dropping a pulsating synthesizer serenade (“Wish U Were Here”) along the way, and when a tune's longer, such as the six-minute “Make It Happen,” Ciocci makes the song go through multiple wardrobe changes rather than stay in one place for too long. Near the end of the CD, five live tracks appear, showing the grimier and noisier side of ROTFLOL, where beats throb and synths squeal (sometimes painfully so). Ciocci works hard at spinning inspired variations on the theme—there's even a mangled instrumental treatment of Bobby McFerrin's execrable “Don't Worry, Be Happy”—but the limited sound palette grows thin over the course of the CD—unless, that is, one has an unquenchable thirst for Casio keyboard melodies and primitive beats.

A ceaseless barrage of animation and video footage, the DVD content is crude and proud of it—subtle and sophisticated it ain't, as shown by the first piece, the descriptively titled “Dog Tongue Intro, Tube Monster, Booty Melt, Umbella/Zombi Mistake.” Yep, it's a mash-up featuring a tongue-wagging dog, snippets of Cher and Rick James, plus melded footage (and audio) of Rihanna's “Umbrella” and The Cranberries “Zombie”—in short, a trash-can cacophony of animated and low-res images with Casio insanity as the soundtrack. In addition, “Untitled Super 8's” alternates Lynch-esque video footage of a neck brace-wearing woman with stroboscopic treatments of skulls and sci-fi imagery, “How to Escape From Stress” eschews video footage for a full animation treatment depicting meditation and decapitation, and “Go!” features animated footage of Gumby and Pokey riding go-karts—it's that kind of project. In “Little Dude Lost Inside A Labrynth of Problems He Invented Inside His Own Head,”  we see Ciocci (presumably) dancing to the manic tune, in this case having a whole lot more fun than the person (re)viewing the material.

July 2010