Rate of Living


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Rate of Living Review

by Ned Raggett

When not running the Sprawl club and label, Douglas Benford pursues his muse under the always slightly renamed si-cut.db alias, thus the origins of this, his third album under that moniker. Rate of Living, like many electronic/IDM albums, deals with structures and noises most rock critics dismiss as "hard to understand" or think that Radiohead invented. Unlike far too many such albums, though, this one's pretty good instead of being software-patch by rote. Part of it boils down to the fact that, a few tracks aside, Benford balances out easy-to-grasp melodies with beats that would actually work on a club floor -- it's neither chillout nor hyperactive arrhythmia, but it's not Kompakt-style microhouse either, say. Opening cut "…Hide!," for instance, could almost be a top-notch fusion jam from decades back transposed for computer, spiky and lively. Songs like "Fear of Your Pals" have the slinky feeling of someone moving through a busy dancefloor. Elsewhere there's the squelch of mock steel drums over an attractive, melancholic undertow (the start and end of "Stop London Sinking," also hinted at in "Private Drainage"), a similarly blended combination of vibes, mournful synth, and sharp beats ("Hi Kids"), and a take on hyperspeed jungle-style rhythms that actually sounds different from the generic floods of the late '90s ("[Life Without] Amnesia"). Though there is more variety than many releases, it still drags a bit toward the middle -- possibly another victim of extended CD running times, but also some combinations feel more generic than others. Still, points for ending with a brief, murky/twinkly number called "Why Implants Killed Porn for Me."