This is an elaborate treat that snuck past a lot of critics and potential audience when it was released back in 1995. The packaging for the CD came with some serious multimedia perks; certainly ahead of its time. The built-in CD-ROM features allow the listener/viewer the option of going through the whole disc with its own CD player software, occasionally alerting the viewer to videos where applicable. There are three altogether, but always available are some basic television images flashing on the computer screen plus controls to modify them (fast, slow, distorted, etc.). Lyrics are available to scroll down for each track, plus tour and contact information. Also present is a quick showcase of EBN's equipment, such as their impressive video image sampler as well as a demonstration of their absurd and amusing golf-bag rocket launcher. For buyers who didn't have a CD-ROM drive, never fear -- a floppy disc is also included in the sleeve to provide some basic multimedia wall of sound eye candy. But all of this is just visual. As for the music, this is a tremendously ambitious side project for Meat Beat Manifesto's frontman Jack Dangers, who seems like an ideal producer for this album, one that is so deeply rooted in found samples, TV clips, and soundbites. Using existing media as a prime source of material for much of this album, there are hardly any formal musicians in Emergency Broadcast Network, but rather a collective of producers, programmers, and audio/visual operators that create new works by utilizing a musicians' ear, if not a musical instrument. Two tracks feature a slightly more traditional approach: First visiting producer Brian Eno gives a little creepy breathing room for the track "Homicidal Schizophrenic," with guest guitarist Jamie West-Oram, ex-member of The Fixx. Also on the guest list is the ever-prolific Bill Laswell, who puts in his two cents for the track "Shoot the Mac-10," an inner-city tribute to a lightweight automatic weapon that features the surprisingly gritty rap skills of '80s legend Grandmaster Melle Mel, whose teeth have only sharpened over the years. As for the rest of the album, Dangers typically likes to stuff a record to the seams with soundbites and audio clips, and here he also adds commercial interruptions between several tracks. Telecommunication Breakdown is an almost overindulgent showcase for his style, but, due to the nature of this concept album, its excessiveness is what gives this album its wings. Not to be missed.
Telecommunication Breakdown Review
by Keir Langley