Fretless AZM

From Marz with Love

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The debut CD by Fretless AZM, an electronica duo from, of all places, England's rural Isle of Wight, is an often intriguing but occasionally tiresome blend of ambient house (ghostly, amelodic keyboards and chattering electronic drums) and '70s-style fusion (grooves propelled by deep-toned, popping basslines and Latin-style hand percussion) that works more often than not. The mixture of styles is best heard on the spooky, Hawkwind-style space rock of "O.H. Krill" and the Cuban-influenced bounce of "Main Frame," but some other tracks, like the aimless "Basslines and Boxes," merely start, dribble along for six or seven minutes with little rhythmic or melodic development, and then fade out. Co-leaders Max Brennan and Rupert Brown are skilled at balancing live drums with sequencers, and electronic keyboards with lower-tech found sounds and acoustic instruments, and the best tracks are sublime. However, this is yet another 70-plus minute album that would be much improved if it were about one-third shorter.

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