Role Model

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Perhaps it's an album made even more interesting by virtue of Rjyan Kidwell's eventual attempts to extricate himself from an insular and exclusive electronic music community, but even within IDM's own rigid terms, Role Model is a beautiful, caterwauling mess. To be this technically proficient (and this willfully experimental) at the age of 19 is one matter, but Kidwell's impressive compositional command at this early stage is another entirely. From the opening acid-tinged wibblings of the Aphex Twin-inspired "At Least I Can Say I Tried" to the twitchy, mutilated cut and paste of the chiming "Am I Soundboy" through to the gutsy rejig of the Dismemberment Plan's "Academy Award," this is clearly the work of a kid who values melody and structure above all else. Alas, even in view of Kidwell's general adherence to this template, there remain a few critical missteps; a host of frankly unlistenable stabs of white noise render "Again and Again" a "punk" misunderstanding while the stuttering "Love Cop" fails to engage in any meaningful way. In the context of the record, however, these misfires amount to minor quibbles; while not as forward thinking or as rabble-rousing as most of Kidwell's later records, Role Model is a crucial formative step forward.

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