Massonix

Subtracks

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AllMusic Review by

Start an electronic album off with waves crashing on the shore and the cry of seagulls and many listeners will wonder if they've stumbled into a 1994-era chill room by mistake. (Alternately, some may well be there by intent.) Subtracks by Massonix, an irregular alter ego of deserved techno legend Graham Massey, isn't quite such a return to the past -- for one thing, Massey actually knows what beats and rhythms are -- but there's a literally immersive feeling on this album, consisting of efforts recorded over the years at various shows, then reworked in the studio. Everything about the album ties into a nautical theme, from the title and artwork to the extended names of the songs, and while it's not P-Funk's version of aqua boogie -- or for that matter Arthur Russell's -- it's still sprightly and enjoyable stuff, at many points reminiscent of the more playful side of Massey's work in 808 State. The semi dink pop of "March of the Triton Titans (Rubber, Canvas and Lead)" makes for a very goony listen thanks to the lead keyboard line, while "Forests of Crespo (Kelp Forest Range)" hints at the kind of devolved film noir that early Yello made its own, but with its own echoing spin. Often the rhythms are much more rigorous on first blush than the context might indicate -- "Sargasso (Horse Latitudes, Giant Kelp)" is essentially a classic industrial/EBM cut in all but name, the occasional bubbling melody aside. Other similarly aggro tracks like "Despina Farfisa (Continental Ridge)," with its brawling drum machine punch, and the ultimately chaotic "Boonadawn (The Mackerel, the Sampan and the Marlin)" help to further leaven things up, set against prettier songs such as "Diamond Dance (4ths, Heavy Water)."

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