Monday, March 10, 2008

El Guapo - super/system (2002)

Amidst the disco-punk fad of the early 00's, El Guapo's Super/System actually offered more than just new-wave revisited.

"My Bird Sings" is a Devo-esque hiccup, while "Elguapolis" a spastic electronic vignette. "Inevitability" takes a basic anthemic rock motif and adds quirky electronics, not to mention some samba percussion in the end. The obsessive bassline in "Rumbledream" reminds of Faust's "Jennifer", and the hammering beat in the end pays tribute to Neu, yet the basis is a psychedelic blues number a la Syd Barrett's "Rats". Another vignette, "Time Crisis II", goes for suspenseful ambience and finishes in a free-jazz tinged coda.

Minimalism prevails in "Rhyme Scene", which could be 80's synth-pop if it wasn't for the enigmatic horn section and the dub-drenched production values. "As In" is one of the most elaborate tracks here (breakbeats, spooky ambience, chant-like vocals, accordions). The paranoid grooves of "Buildables" again hark back to 80's wave (think Eyeless In Gaza), but the digital production is pure 00's. The catchy melody in "Scientific Instruments" is grossly disfigured by a barrage of industrial sound-effects and weird instrumentation.

Yet another vignette, "Faith-Based Music", sounds actually like derranged robots playing circus music. "Disappointment Spelled With V" presents the usual menacing synth-pop, this time sabotaged by brass which is half free-jazz and half bucolic Balcan ethnic. "Laser Eyes" (part disco and part electro chant) soon turns to musique concrete mayhem, but then turns again to distorted disco, only to turn again to abstract avant-garde noise. In "Clock", doo-wop vocals counter a cranky lullaby as played by a progressive-rock band. Finally, "Being Boulevards" is a free-jazz band covering The Fall (or the opposite), but then midway through transforms to sinister kosmische ambient.

What really stands out amidst these very creative tracks is not the dadaist spirit, the cubist arrangements, or even the post-modern production values, but rather the demented grooves.

Get it here.

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