Emperor X

Tectonic Membrane/Thin Strip On An Edgeless Platform

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Remember lo-fi? That oft misinterpreted mid-'90s indie subgenre that made a few too many kids with a few too many instruments packed into their bedrooms think they should just play everything themselves into a pawnshop four-track recorder and instant Lou Barlow cred would follow? It was punk all over again, primitive means leading the way to endless vinyl stacks that were bad on purpose, yet just plain bad to the listener as well. Chad Matheny remembers, although obviously just the good stuff, because why else would somebody even attempt to re-vibe such a catastrophic style. Fortunately, Matheny delivers on the promise once offered by lo-fi, and adds a healthy dose of modernly retro electronics that actually find something original to do beyond new wave ripoffs or folky blips and bleeps. Most exciting is "Florencia Tropicana," which somehow nails New Order far better than all of the bands fetishizing New Order, even with lines like "I sent you an attachment but Friendster lost it." At times, Matheny forgets about his electronics altogether, opting to rev up the guitars on "Constantly Constantly Radio's On" and "Garbage Shaft," but they're buffered by "Intracellular," the most obtuse item found here with its eight minutes of looping, delayed tones and passive bassline. Amazingly, Matheny seems to be getting everything right, doing his best in the places most likely to fail. Folktronica followers and the Strokes could all use a lesson.

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