Something Always Goes Wrong

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Although not released until 2000, the tracks which make up the bulk of Something Always Goes Wrong represent Dntel's earliest recordings, dating from 1994 and originally intended as a six-song EP. That's somewhat surprising to learn, considering how much closer in spirit they seem to the gentle lushness of 2001's Life Is Full of Possibilities than to the frenetic intervening productions on Dntel's first full-length collection, Early Works for Me If It Works for You (1998.) On the other hand, it makes some sense that these pieces came first, as they definitely sound like the work of a fledgling producer just beginning to explore his territory. Lacking the dizzying percussive virtuosity of many Early Works tracks, these are calmer and more expansive pieces that sometimes recall the childlike sweetness of Plone, though without quite that degree of compositional directness. In keeping with their fantasy-adventure titles, they have a generally dreamy, bedtime story flavor to them as well as a quasi-narrative journeying feel, venturing through varied terrain of multi-layered synth textures, drum machine patches, sometimes queasy effects, and meandering melodies. Rounding out the Phthalo CD are a pair of remixes, which stay within the same general tone, and a pair of newer tracks: the gruff, abstract "S.O.S." and the funky-beat odyssey "A Machine and a Memory," which features an infectiously bleepy melodic hook.