Plexus - s/t
(Mother West Records 2001, MWR0057-2)
From Aural Innovations #19 (April 2002)
This is the debut of New York's Plexus, a spacey drum'n'bass/trance trio with lots of solid grooves all throughout this disc. The moods run from dark, pounding and heavy to happy and twee, but always with a high degree of electronic musicianship. The production is razor sharp, which make the percussion and sequencing more appreciated, though leaves few secrets to uncover during repeated listening. There are some cliches that I'm pretty burnt out on, such as the ethnic-female vocal-samples, that probably could have been dispensed or experimented with, but I definitely sense that these guys know what they want to hear.
The first few cuts are the strongest. "Plexus 2001" builds a classic techno space-pulse into a heavy tight drum-n-bass attack against flowing waves of synth and descending drones. The best piece on offer is "Asia Minor", a great composition full of dub-grooves, catchy vocal samples, beautifully spacey complex keyboard runs and a recurrent break-away drum-attack that goes way off the board, complimented by mind-numbing doom drones. (Also utilizes a classic Amon Düül II electro-percussive effect from "Stumbling Over Melted Moonlight" that Add N to X more blatantly nicked on their first album.) Equally catchy and complex. "Telephone Noir" has cosmic reverbed percussion (some of which I should add is actually "real-time" playing, though so tight it can be hard to distinguish from the more programmed stuff), psychedelic fx'd serpent-conjuring flute, gooey dub rhythms, campy piano/guitar touches, symphonic-techno keys... in other words, a lot! I'm not trying to describe this in a linear fashion, but don't worry, it's all totally coherent and composed.
"Rocket Science" is a more laid back piece, sounding a bit like some early-80s Rush. "G-Forz" and "Inner Space" are a bit more in that "twee-electronica" vein, but with all instrumental integrity intact, it's just quite happy and chill, drum'n'bass rhythms still remaining the constant. "Chant" follows similarly... the vocal in question is catchy but kinda typical. I feel like I've heard it before. The sophisticated drum-n-bass technique is given the full treatment here, utilizing a kind of CD-skip effect as well. "Tube's Asia Remix" doesn't sound much at all like the above-mentioned "Asia Minor" and has more of the standard dancey sympho and coily techno-keys, as well as East Indian/Arab-type wails against what sounds like may be live drumming. Good stuff, though.
There's nothing particularly original here, could have used more variation in sound and approach, and fewer trance-type cliches, but overall is a solid spew of "intelligent electronic music". Fans of FSOL, Loop Guru, or any progressive rhythmic space-music, come hither.
For more information you can visit the Plexus web site at: http://www.plexusmusic.com.
Plexus is distributed by Mother West Records. You can visit their web site at: http://www.motherwest.com.
Contact via snail mail c/o Mother West; 132 West 26th Street; New York, NY 10001.
Reviewed by Chuck Rosenberg