Bochum Welt

R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy)

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Not quite a greatest-hits collection as such and not quite a new album plus a bonus disc either, R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy) is if nothing else a useful starting point for anyone new to Bochum Welt (aka Gianluigi Di Costanzo), showing that the Italian's love for aggressive, varied techno and electronic compositions has remained strong over the years. The first disc covers the newer tracks and if the whole feels a touch more like a compilation than a collection that fully hangs together, the highlights are constant; while Bochum Welt is on Aphex Twin's label for a reason, the similarities between the two artists don't equal an exact copying, happily. Songs like the title track, as serenely hyperactive a mix between soothing melodies and quick-speed squelches and beats as anything similar, and the easygoing groove of "Interlude" demonstrate his skill for immediate, enjoyable work that does not always innovate but does not rely on it to succeed, while the concluding track, "Fcs," is a fine way to sign off, an uplifting burst of restrained exultance thanks to a peppy rhythm and a chiming lead melody. The strongest numbers, though, are the more contemplative ones, further riffs on the original ambient model from the 1970s given fine new contexts. The flat-out calm of songs like the beautiful "8221SB," one of his best ever efforts in that vein, a mix between late-'80s Cocteau Twins and nearly new age serenity, and the marvelous, multi-part "DR2D" stand out the most in this vein. The second disc gathers up past tracks released on Rephlex via singles and other efforts for a handy catchall, and while many of the cuts do evidence a much clearer Richard D. James fascination, it's still a fine extra listen for those enamored with that general approach.

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