Freight Elevator Quartet

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All electronica artists claim originality, but few can do so as convincingly as the Freight Elevator Quartet, whose recent collaboration with DJ Spooky (File Under Futurism) was one of the smartest and most interesting electronic music projects of recent years. On its own, the group shows an even greater stylistic diversity, swinging from wispy down-tempo numbers ("So Fragile") and dark trip-hop ("Ping") to clattery experimental drum'n'bass ("Exasperation"). Then there's the utterly arrhythmic and haunting "Miles Away," which sounds like a combination of chordal moonscape and whale song. Vocals arise from time to time ("Exasperation," "So Fragile") but they rarely add much; what's most interesting here is the music itself, which includes acoustic stringed instruments (cello most prominently) in addition to the inevitable looped samples, sine waves, and nauseated-space-alien synthesizer tones. Even at its most experimental, though, the music of the Freight Elevator Quartet rarely loses track of the beat -- this turns out, ultimately, to be groove music, albeit of a fairly intellectual type.

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