Friendly Science Orchestra

Miniature Album

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As weird and wondrous as was the shoegazer noise of the Pale Saints, frontman Ian Masters sought a more experimental sound. Friendly Science Orchestra is definitely one of his more left-field, post-Pale Saints endeavors. Miniature Album sees him collaborating with like-minded sonic experimentalists, crafting hazy psychedelic ditties and bizarre sound clash excursions. Only three of the mini-album's 12 tracks extend beyond the one-minute mark, and even then it's only for a few brief additional seconds. Fans of Masters' stunning voice will be disappointed that he only sings on the delightful opener, "Sutekina Sora O," with the remainder of the album's "vocals" entailing disorienting samples and a female Japanese friend repeating frightening lines about a baby in a box on the appropriately titled "Baby in the Box." Masters traverses more than a few genres in the album's 12 minutes, from weepy IDM to Japanese-style punishing art-noise to a fuzz box movie-score cover to avant-garde percussion and synth workouts that would make John Cage proud. Other than "Sutekina Sora O" and the tender, haunting instrumental "I Don't Know How to Be a Girl," Miniature Album is a relatively inaccessible experience, even for fans who've followed Masters from the Pale Saints to Spoonfed Hybrid and ESP Summer. It's an interesting and obscure album to say the least, but an acquired taste to be sure. That Masters surfs through so many genres with such great success, making song fragments feel like full-length experimental symphonies, belies the fact that he's created more of a museum piece than an album geared toward casual listening.

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