Vacuum Boys

Play Songs From the Sea of Love

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Remember the Honeydrippers? In the early '80s, the musicians of Led Zeppelin masqueraded as the '50s nostalgia group the Honeydrippers to play covers of old rock & roll songs -- they had a hit with the smoochy ballad "Sea of Love." The Vacuum Boys follow the same guidelines, with two main differences. First, instead of a rock monument the name hides four musicians from the experimental electronica underground. Second, despite the claim that they are "hair-rising rock & roll mischief," the Vacuum Boys are a laptop improv quartet -- typical experimental electronica at the turn of the millennium. The packaging and marketing are impeccable. On the cover shot the quartet is dressed in sailor getup; the booklet includes a dime novel-type story starring the Vacuum Boys themselves (ain't that showbiz) and distributes the following credits: bass and keyboards for Guy Amitai, lead vocals and rhythm guitar for Heimir Björgúlfsson, lead guitar for Dan Armstrong, and drums for Gert-Jan Prins. Play Songs From the Sea of Love (oh, that title cannot be a mere coincidence) contains 44 minutes of inspired laptop improv, noisy, challenging, and rewarding. You might detect an electric guitar here, a vocal sample there, but they are heavily treated and have nothing to do with rock. The ten-minute "All It Took Was a Single Spark" (advertised in the booklet as a hit single) provides the highlight in the form of a maniacal avant-techno suite. Recommended as much for the music as for the irony and humor of the project.

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