TU M': Pop Involved (Version 3.0)

Fällt continues its line of distinctive releases with Pop Involved (Version 3.0), the second in its burn-to-order "Ferric" Series, by Italian duo TU M' (Rossano Polidoro and Emiliano Romanelli, whose moniker originated from Marcel Duchamp's 1918 painting). The association with the French dadaist isn't immaterial as the group's songs have a ready-made, collage-oriented feel to them, and, much like Duchamp's works, TU M' treats traditional materials in post-modern fashion. And, true to dada form, the group embraces the glitch as a key element in its music-making process, as the 'error' is regarded as a fortuitous means by which to pursue unforeseen pathways in their music.

The music resembles what a slightly more sedate Mouse On Mars might have sounded like had the group discarded beats and taken a more eccentric, even hermetic path. The fourteen songs are eccentric pop miniatures that exude a Sonig-like spirit of lo-fi tomfoolery. Some tracks sound as if they originated as conventional tunes but were then digitally shredded into mutated fragments that could only be re-assembled into cubistic semblances of the originals. “Wake Up,” for instance, begins with straightforward acoustic guitars but they're abruptly ambushed by digital processing; throughout the track, one hears the distant strains of a back porch folk song struggling to surface through the song's dense, glitchy layers; “Something Sweet In The Coffee” similarly runs its acoustic guitar duet through a glitchy blender. “What?” and “I Can't Get Started” demonstrate tu m''s penchant for MOM mechano-rhythms, while the clicks and whirrs and playful handling of traditional instruments on “What Time Is It?” suggest another MOM connection. In other songs, one hears the chatter of mice within some cramped hole (“The Mouse House”) and fuzzy, chiming waves that suggest some bastardized take on Steve Reich (“Mezzo Forte”). As ballast for such strange fare, tu m' include two lovely episodes, “The End Of The Summer,” a becalmed oasis of wave-like shimmer, and “Untitled,” all sparkling showers of crackle and thrum.

Aside from the music, the release is notable in other respects too. The disc comes in a customized, large-format jewel case and, secondly, as its title indicates, it's actually the third version of the release, with the preceding two having appeared during the past two years. This latest upgrade features some different songs and altered sequencing compared to its predecessors, so the differences aren't merely incidental. The presentation of Pop Involved (Version 3.0) may be tasteful and sober but there's an infectious joie de vivre in the dada-like music inside that's certain to charm even the most inveterate listener.

June 2004