Modular

Fantasias de un Robot Psicodelico

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At first blush, it's easy to dismiss Modular as nothing more than a Argentinian knock-off of the High Llamas and Stereolab. Spilling over with prim, Free Design-style vocals and more analog synthiness than you could shake a foil-wrapped package of dehydrated space ice cream at, it would be impossible to talk about Modular's 2009 debut, Fantasias de Un Robot Psicodelico, without bringing up those two bands (or Le Futur Pompiste, or Air -- you get the picture). So, what sets them apart, other than the fact that Modular's vocals are in Spanish? In the end, it comes down to their inventiveness and sense of humor. Where the High Llamas tend to reuse the same musical gesture over the course of a track, Modular tend to switch things up. They're a bit restless; in the space of three minutes, "Perdidos en el Espacio" somersaults through a handful of moods and tempos -- a little strident, New Seekers-style stuff here, a little banjo-and-vibraclap goofiness there, a little space lounge there -- before winding to a close. And while Modular do share Stereolab's frostiness and austerity, they're much more apt to crack a joke; "Los Mutantes" is a refreshingly kooky Harpers Bizarre-like jaunt, all bouncy synthesizers, vibraphones, and saccharine vocals. It's this combination of wide-ranging zaniness, multi-textured inventiveness, and sweet, synth-addled hookiness that make Fantasias de Un Robot Psicodelico a gloriously kitschy, rainbow-tinted daydream of an album.

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