Miranda July

The Binet-Simon Test

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Miranda July's The Binet-Simon Test is one of the most bizarrely fascinating releases Kill Rock Stars has ever put out. It's not really music in a conventional sense as much as it's a post-riot grrrl indie-punk take on Laurie Anderson's early multimedia work: the minimalist music is there primarily to underpin July's surreal dialogues. In keeping with the album's title, each of the five lengthy pieces (three hover around the ten-minute mark) features a type of interview or interrogation, with July playing all the vocal roles. A sense of increasing paranoia pervades the album, climaxing in the hectoring "WSNO," a sort of sardonic morality play set in the ugly confines of a sensationalistic talk show "hosted" by July in a chillingly smarmy Dr. Laura-type voice. The Binet-Simon Test is unsettling, sometimes unpleasant listening, but it works more often than not, and a dry-as-dust sense of humor does offset some of the bleaker passages.

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