Various Artists - "The Complication Series" (Marino/Elsie And Jack 1999, CD)

From Aural Innovations #10 (June 2000)

Marino is a side label of Elsie And Jack, and this compilation of various E+J artists showed up along with the SubArachnoid Space disc I had ordered from them. Each track represents a band on each of E+J's releases to date and are apparently all non-album tracks. Other than SubArachnoid Space I'm unfamiliar with any of these bands, but there is some very interesting avant-electronica and noise-psych here that deserves further exploration.

The first track is 22 minutes and I'm not sure but seems to be a hodgepodge from E+J's first release which itself was a compilation. The contributing bands include Crawl Unit, Shifts, Rapoon, Totemplow, Monera, Pregnant Pause, and Flutter. The track begins as an industrial electronic noise-fest with grating sounds that soon develops into a minimalist electronic piece that sounds a bit like the Residents' Eskimo album, but more atmospheric. The rest of the track journey's through music that is similar but varies in it's use of sound and the environment it creates, some of which travels into deep space. It's not clear where one band finishes and the next takes over but I suspect that's the whole idea.

The rest of the bands fit a pattern that indicates E+J is very much into experimental atmospheric space drones. The Shifts, Aube, FM Synthesis, and Monera fall firmly into this category. September Plateau stood out with its Melodic dual guitars harmonizing as a non-musical electronic pattern plays along, varying only in speed. It's strange but intriguing contrast.

Tabata and Brume were the tracks that really grabbed me (outside of SubArachnoid Space). Tabata sounds like mostly stringed instruments and some synths producing several layers of droning sound. What makes this particularly interesting is I can detect several guitar parts at once, one a slow acidic sound, and the other a rapid scrambling solo. A busy track that prompted multiple listens. I'll definitely have to check out more of Tabata's music. The track by Brume also featured a lot of various layers happening at once and provided lots of interesting contrasts. An acoustic stringed instrument plays an ethnic style I can't identify while various percussive and synth sounds jam along with it.

I don't know how long the offer lasts but I received this free for buying a CD directly from Elsie And Jack.

You can visit Elsie And Jack Records at their web site.

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

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