Blue Sky Black Death

Third Party

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The production team of Ian Taggart and Kingston Maguire is known mostly in musicians' circles as the beat-crafters responsible for backing tracks used by the likes of Holocaust, Hell Razah, and various members of Wu Tang Clan, Jedi Mind Tricks, and Non Phixion. When they step out on their own, they record under the name Blue Sky Black Death, and their third album finds them collaborating with singer and songwriter Alexander Chen (Boy in Static, the Consulate General). The result is a truly unique sound made up of absolutely non-unique elements. The songs are desultory but strangely attractive; the singing is cold and lackluster, but oddly comforting. The overall sound is something like '80s synth pop with the turntable set at too low a speed, and it's weird and dreamy and pretty and just slightly annoying all at the same time. Highlights include the rather dubstep-ish "Carl Sagan," the glitches-and-Casiotone ballad "Absentee," and the nicely harmonized "Institution." Everywhere the sound of cheap analog keyboards and toy rhythm machines dominates, but Taggart and Maguire make them sound more than just kitschy and cute; they reclaim these outdated sounds and use them to create something that is really quite new and, if not exciting (the singing is too enervated for that), at least deeply satisfying.

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