Terence Fixmer

Comedy of Menace

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Kicking off with the appropriately ominous four-to-the-floor punch and deep bass-tone loop of "Dark Line," Comedy of Menace finds Terence Fixmer creating solid if not totally inventive 21st century techno and trance as electronic body music. If anything, the album title is perfectly appropriate -- Fixmer seems dedicated throughout to playing up the potentially very funny humor of melodramatically dark music, but does so without aiming for the overtly camp. Sometimes it's just in the titles -- "Dance Like Paranoid," "Phantoms," and the wonderfully Gary Numan-like "My Experimentation" -- but it can be more as well, as with the deep distorted voice intoning the title of "Things Are Over" throughout its short length. (There also has to be a slight spelling nod to the work of Richie Hawtin in titling two songs "Drastik" and "Impakt," with the crisp cymbal hits and rigorous pace of the latter suggesting Plastikman gone to an even more unsettled industrial setting than Detroit.) At the same time, much of the album is simply good if unsurprising, quick-paced but often quite moody techno punctuated with massively echoed basslines and bursts, with songs like "Breathless" and "Alert" following a familiar formula but always sounding pretty great regardless. If Comedy of Menace is less masterpiece than collection of set pieces, it's still very good at being just that.

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