Mensa Dance Squad

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There are those who are extremely serious about their experimental music. Po' faced elitists who want nothing to do with music if there's a hook, riff, or even a beat to grasp onto. And then there's Jay Lesser, who, like the academics, is seemingly focused only on pushing the boundaries of what people's ears and attitudes will tolerate. The difference is that Lesser is laughing his ass off. A mini-album to follow-up Gearhound, Lesser's debut for indie/mainstream margin walkers Matador, Mensa Dance Squad, is a perfect fit for the IDM imprint Tigerbeat6, sitting comfortably next to smartass releases by label owner Kid606 and Cex. Yet at the same time, the album's title, along with the statement "Intelligence should be used for the benefit of humanity," printed on the cover, berates the self-styled intellectual crowd that purchases these types of releases. And there's the rub. While most experimental artists are thoughtful in their pursuits (never mind the thousands of other, overly sincere musicians in this world), Lesser's refusal to stand up for anything becomes irritating very quickly. True, there can be a certain fascination with the process he uses: cutting, chopping, and distorting the digital output to a hyper-stylized epileptic seizure. And occasionally, on tracks like "Drop It on The," there might even be a slight sense of musicality in the dub clicks and machine shudders. But for the most part, you get the feeling that Lesser has put himself in that ultra-sarcastic position where he can feel super-smarter than you, but will immediately switch to prankster fool when his integrity is challenged. So just because he boldly uses contorted hip-hop samples, and completely defrags Faith No More's classic hit, "Epic" on "Epic Act/Awful Way to Go"," don't assume Lesser to be a razor-sharp pop-culture surgeon. Only when juxtaposed against an artist's more conventional work do the experimental exercises gain credibility.

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