Skozey Fetisch

Spectral Freight

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Mark C. Jackman, the man behind Skozey Fetisch, released close to a dozen albums in CD-R format during the '90s, but Spectral Freight is his first major release since his debut, momma:key, in 1991. It provides a deeply strange ride dominated by analog synthesizers. They provide Jackman with his main sound source. He filters them, transforms them, cuts them into pieces, and reconstructs them in almost every possible way, but the feel of that analog bleep remains ominous, especially in the first half of the album. The robotic pulse of a square wave and the anachronistic sound of protean avant-garde electronic music rule the universe of Spectral Freight. "Sifts Format" and "Sifts Formula," bookending the CD, consist of two separate (and dizzying) synth tracks, one in each stereo channel, bouncing off each other. In later pieces, the artist relies more on other sources -- "Subjective Fill" is a stunning reconstruction/fantasy of a ride in the Tokyo subway -- although radio static, feedback, and other such electronic mishaps enter the composition of most tracks. The album is comprised of 16 pieces, all with titles in the format "S... F..." (Jackman operates from San Francisco, does that matter?), for a total duration of 72 minutes. Most pieces are in the four- to six-minute range, with a couple of shorter ones and the central "Solar Fibrillation" being 18 minutes long. But if you don't pay attention to the display of your CD player, you barely notice the index changes. The pieces are presented in almost segue form; all you feel is a "disturbance in the force," a shift that could be just a change of direction within the same piece. That is not to say that Jackman's sound palette is limited, only that the album makes sense as a whole. But it is a bit on the long side, especially since the music, as skilled as it may be, remains rather cold.

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