Various Artists


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Thinkbox is a six-man collective of experimental electronic music producers from Detroit and Windsor that has been involved in multimedia events since 1997. This first disc from the group features tracks from each member -- two from all but one -- that wouldn't be out of place on releases from Mille Plateaux (see the Clicks & Cuts series), Kompakt (see the Pop Ambient series), and Raster-Noton (see the 20' to 2000 series). Most of the tracks are glacial and spacial in nature, and most take sounds from the hum of life and process them into whatever's possible -- fragments, slivers, and chunks of repeated crackles, pops, and thrums. Elements are twisted into melodies, shaped into rhythms, manipulated into low-volume buzzes and swirls. On the surface, these tracks seem like their parts are few, but intensified listens reveal numerous layers. For instance, there's Bill Van Loo's "A Glimpse," one of the disc's several highlights: A slow, barely perceptible pulse forms its foundation; as discreet environmental noises enter and leave, a soft twinkle of a melody lays just above, but is nearly obscured by a pinging that increases in rapidity and volume until it eventually recedes enough to no longer bother the melody. This probably describes just over half of what goes on during the track; its drifting, dreamlike qualities make it seem much more simplistic than it truly is. Some of the inclusions aren't lulling in the least, and one in particular is so teasingly short that it's frustrating, but the majority of the tracks are given enough time to make you feel like you're being enveloped by their alternately inviting and slightly abrasive tones. Here's hoping Thinkbox follows through on their promise to follow this up.

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