Charlie Slick

Walter Carlos: An Electronic Pop Record By Charlie Slick

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No, this album doesn't have anything to do with the artist and Moog synthesizer pioneer currently known as Wendy Carlos, but Charlie Slick's third album does feel like some sort of concept album, telling the tale of one misunderstood soul and his keyboard collection over the course of eight pop tunes. While electronic pop is often accused of being flat and emotionally chilly, Slick has managed to create a song cycle of genuine poignancy and wit on this album; the pulses, bleeps, and wheezes that issue forth from Slick's instruments have a certain period feel but they seem both retro and contemporary at once, much as the design of the movie Brazil captured an old-fashioned vision of the future, and while the electronic surfaces are clean and crisp, there's just enough grit and simple humanity in the production and performances to give the music a handmade texture that's often missing from synthesizer-based pop. Best of all, Slick's a real songwriter and not someone who only knows how to knock some keyboard lines together, and "Say Hello," "What I'm Trying to Say," and "Hold It Down" are journal entries from a creative misfit with a heart and a soul to go along with his vintage keyboards. Locking in at just 32 minutes, Walter Carlos feels modest, but it's also honest and compelling, and says more in its short running time than most folks mining similar musical territory can with twice that amount; fans of electronic pop aren't the only ones who should investigate this album.

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