Words Are Missing

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AGF's latest album has a title both poetically evocative and objectively accurate -- Words Are Missing is an instrumental release, or rather what vocals there are create tones rather than recognizable speech. More so than her previous releases, this is an art statement of an album -- no bad thing when done right, and the booklet packaging and general feeling of the whole is of a curious but not incomprehensible artifact. The music's the core of that feeling, unsurprisingly, and the flow of ghostly vocals, chopped-up drones and washes, and skittering beats is recognizably an IDM/glitch-based techno release -- unlike much of the tedious work that has beaten that thrill of the new into the ground, though, AGF's interpretation is richer and more rewarding. If the opening spasmodic attacks and sudden calm of "Words Are Useless" are familiar enough, as is her ghostly vocal, her hyperspeed vocal chop-up and loop on "Letters Make No Meaning (Weapons No War Germs No Disease) I" takes Laurie Anderson on a crazy sugar rush, or something more, with the integrity of that piece dissolving further into a flow of other vocals, a slow brooding rhythm, and more. The Anderson feeling comes through even more clearly in "Cognitive Modules Party II," where letters of the alphabet form distinct rhythms. The factory clatter of "Food Combination Chart" -- "industrial" in an earlier sense of the music, musique concrète even -- and the toy-box funk of "Kreuzwortraetsel," among other songs, show that AGF doesn't ignore the dancefloor, even when the psychotic screams and bubbling tension of "Presswehen" want to tear it up. "Where the White Animals Might" almost could be an alternate Maurice Sendak title and has that strange feeling about it too, crazily playful and mysteriously threatening, as howls rise in the background amidst squelches and tones.

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