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Stereoprimer / A is for Algorithm - self titled LP

 
When I was about 16, a girl in my high school theater class posed a rather precarious question: "did you ever just listen to music without any distraction?" When I told her: no, not really, she clucked a bit and pulled me into the dressing room backstage. I sat knock-kneed on the floor, while she put a CD on the stereo, turned off the lights, and kicked herself up on the counter. We sat in the dark and listened to Godspeed You! Black Emperor for 20 minutes – a huge leap for someone whose deepest contact with the independent scene, up to that point, was Modest Mouse circa "Lonesome Crowded West." It was the first time I really appreciated music with any complexity to it, but unfortunately I never got to thank her for the experience.

If I were to relive the moment – in, say, a nostalgic, hyper-tangential album review – Stereoprimer / A is for Algorithm's self-titled LP is the album I'd love to pull into that dressing room and absorb in the dark. This monstrous 75 minute LP is decidedly difficult to pin down – an alluring wash of stutters and blips, bent synth lines and electrostrange moans.

Certain tracks like "Evil Geometric Wizard" and "City in the Clouds" wouldn't seem out of place on a Boards of Canada album, but that's the closest thing to familiarity you're going to find here. The majority of the album is fiercely challenging – ever schizophrenic and often unsetlling. Weirdness abounds, and to satisfying results. "Success" splices a warped self-affirmation tape ("It is my destiny to succeed!") with a chipper, Leave it to Beaver-esque voice – the latter of which repeats the phrase, "stand up everyone, let's form a band!" as relentlessly as would a metronome. Who knows from what source either sample was orphaned, but the meshed result is downright eerie. "Kool Toyz" plays like someone remixed a boss fight theme from a Super Nintendo side-scroller into a wicked dance jam. On perhaps the album's best track, "Flumpsicle," an otherwise jovial recital of a silly children's story bends and collapses under the weight of heavy synthesizers and dark, ominous drums.

But it's impossible to consider this offering solely on a track-by-track basis. Much like Godspeed, this album is holistically motivated, driven by ambient vignettes and an impeccable balance between the smooth and the unsettling. Truthfully, it'll get brushed aside by people who think the robotic meandering is a sure sign of artistic pretension. Okay, okay – they're probably right, but there's nothing that says that pretension precludes this from being a damn good album, even if it does take effort to find an entry point. Because sometime an artist just needs to hunker down and say, "awright, hold tight. Here's the kind of crazy shit I can pull with a wack brain and a beat machine." And sometimes the audience has to follow along in an uncomfortable sort of awe.

-Phillip Taylor-Parker
Related Downloads
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Stereoprimer
song:Flumpsicle
album:A is for Algorithm (Unfun Reco…
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Stereoprimer
song:Kool Toyz
album:A is for Algorithm (Unfun Reco…
[ play ] | [ download mp3 ]