Though Stephen Vitiello may spend inordinate amounts of time in the gallery setting scoring works for video artist Naim June Paik or choreographer Li Chiao Ping, Scratchy Marimba is Vitiello's attempt to break free from those ultra-pretentious settings. As part of the Meld Series for Scanner's Sulphur Records, Scratchy Marimba embraces the clunky and machinated textures of Kraftwerk in a more electro-acoustic setting. Vitiello teams up with Hahn Rowe (of Firewater), Dean Sharp, Robin Rimbaud (aka Scanner), and Anthony Moore to create this brilliant landscape of skittering percussion and electronics. Conceptually, Scratchy Marimba makes use of an instrument often overlooked and underused in modern music. At times, Vitiello's marimba (and many of the other instruments present) is hardly recognizable. It's most creatively employed on the track "Scratchy Marimba Meets the Low Pass Shrew." Like Philip Glass before him, Vitiello makes listenable avant-garde music that hovers between minimalist composition and Eno-esque ambient music. While still heady enough for the art crowd, this record is a funked-up pastiche of esoteric sounds that allows Vitiello acceptance in less-initiated places as well. He's not totally in the clear yet, as tracks like "Taxi Take Off" find him back with his underground low-frequency rumblings that still don't quite seem fitting for the average family stereo.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Taylor