Various Artists

At Home With the Groovebox

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The Groovebox combines three classic synthesizers from the 1980s (the 808 and 909 drum machines and the 303 bass machine) as well as a sampler of new and old sounds. Tannis Root developed the machine and has used Grand Royal's stable of artists (and then some) to compose a piece each, demonstrating the versatility of this retro instrument. The selection of artists is interesting, but not too surprising -- Buffalo Daughter, Beck, Cibo Matto, Sonic Youth, John McEntire (from Tortoise) -- and all are dab hands at samplers and rhythm boxes to start with and the resulting songs don't depart too far from their usual work. They are all exclusive to this compilation and are mostly solid work, apart from Beck's "Boyz," which sounds slapped together between gigs. Buffalo Daughter's "303+606=ACID" beeps and boops along as expected, Cibo Matto's "We Love Our Lawyers" struts along with cheesy keyboards and an obscured vocal. Also on board for the collection are some of the originators of the synthesized sound, Jean Jaques Perrey, Gershon Kingsley, and Dick Hyman, the latter of whose "Glass Slipper" shows how a technology borne out of early hip-hop music can be used for strange landscapes and beyond.

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