Salaryman

Salaryman

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Pulling off a completely different incarnation of a band -- while that parent band is still going -- isn't necessarily the easiest of tasks, though jokey efforts like the Bubblemen for Love and Rockets, and the Metal Gurus for the Mission UK, have had their place. Salaryman, the Poster Children's concurrent effort, aims at something more solid and truly distinct -- there's no P-Funk-style bleedover here -- though wisely they're not trying for complete seriousness. If inspired by mid-'90s post-rock in their Illinois stomping ground, they're letting in a touch more humor in their artistic approach and design than other more po-faced acts (thus song titles like "I Need a Monkey," and "Inca Picnic"). But approached on its own merits Salaryman's debut is a surprisingly affecting and often hauntingly beautiful take on the form, instrumental mood music, for a far more restrained, melancholy world than the one the Poster Children's merrily explosive songs inhabit. With various samples taken from random TV sources acting as a semi-thematic core throughout, the then-current lineup -- Rick and Jim Valentin, Rose Marschack, and Howie Kantoff -- recorded everything over the course of two days while keeping the songs varied, and the interest level high. Some songs skip along with brisk, nervously tense percussion ("Inca Picnic" is a sharp example, with Kantoff going to town without being overpowering), others go far slower, but all revolve around heavily treated, sad, radio signal-type minimal melodies from various sources. The effect is to almost suggest a new way to rework Kraftwerk's dying electricity moments circa Radioactivity into a different setting and atmosphere, while still suggesting lost futures and distant vistas. The mostly incomprehensible and heavily echoed TV samples add to the quietly disorienting mood. "Voids and Superclusters," both evilly droning and suddenly dramatic all at once, ended up being the core of a followup remix EP, and deservedly so, given it's the strongest song as such.

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