Plus-Tech Squeeze Box


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With 13 tracks averaging not much more than two minutes each, Japanese electronic pop duo Plus-Tech Squeeze Box's second album is a dizzyingly intense roller coaster ride through a two-D world of Saturday morning kids cartoons, with song titles like "Fantasie C dur P.491-Generalprobe-" and "Hoky-Poky" telling you at once everything and nothing about what Plus-Tech Squeeze Box are about. Cartooom! is a frantic cut-and-paste of multiple vocalists, thousands of samples, and dozens of melodic ideas, with none given more than about 20 seconds to assert itself before skipping to another, like a child with ADHD, a two liter bottle of coke, and a remote control. Musically, there are snatches of funk, pop-punk, techno pop, disco, bubblegum, hip-hop, hillbilly banjo, and electronic jazz all played at what feels like ten times the normal speed, with the album's conceptual origins going back to the '90s Shibuya-kei style of artists such as Pizzicato 5 and Cornelius, but also to Japanese new wave and neo-new wave bands like the Plastics and Polysics. While this musical sugar overdose is undoubtedly an acquired taste, the way it sticks to its central artistic concept, avoiding self-indulgent excursions and reining itself in at under half an hour, Cartooom! leaves you breathless at the finish and hungry for a second listen rather than simply exhausted.

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