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Being Ridden Instrumentals

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Album Review

Though it seems primarily like a bone thrown to those fans wishing that Cex were still focused on the abstract, instrumental electronica of his earlier releases rather than the wide-ranging stylistic exploration and idiosyncratic lyrical self-absorption he has pursued since, the Instrumentals version of his 2003 emo-pop-rap-tronica album Being Ridden works as much more than a throwaway for trainspotters. It should certainly appease those fans, especially since this work is actually more musically inventive and more consistently engaging than his first few albums, but it's a very worthwhile listen for fans of Cex's work in general, as it's a great reminder of how much his production talents continue to bolster his music. Stripped of their lyrical focus, a few of these pieces feel slightly underdeveloped and overlong, but most of them are intricate and melodic enough to sustain interest easily, particularly given their song-based compositional structures, and don't feel like they're missing anything. A few of the numbers that felt cluttered and claustrophobic in their original versions — particularly "Brer Rjyan" and "Dead Bodies" — are actually more effective here with some room to breathe, revealing layers of complexity that were previously obscured. As with many of these pieces, they combine rough-hewn acoustic guitar work with glitchy beats and other electronic elements, resulting in something comparable to the folktronic style of Four Tet and Caribou. It's worth noting that this is not a track-for-track retread of the original album: the Venetian Snares-produced "Stamina" is AWOL, and the three already-instrumental tracks are also omitted (sensibly enough, but somewhat regrettably since they were lovely pieces that got somewhat overshadowed by the vocal tracks); these are replaced with a couple of new instrumentals, most notably the loping "Bad Girls" and the very lovely pop-ambient "My Hands Switched with Mannequin Hands." Taken as an incidental return to Rjyan Kidwell's IDM heyday, or merely a sideline curio of outtakes, Being Ridden Instrumentals makes an inessential but still highly enjoyable entry in the Cex oeuvre. ~ K. Ross Hoffman, Rovi

Biography

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Cex has no qualms about his desire to be a Rolex-wearing pop and rap star, and his music actually lies in the realm of intelligent dance music. At the age of 19, Rjyan Kidwell already had a catalog of releases and a record label behind him. His upbeat and over the top personality splattered a large dash of color across a subgenre of techno that is often bland and too mechanical. In 1998, Kidwell started Underscore Records and released a triplet of CD-Rs, one by him and two by friends. Only 600 of...
Full bio
Being Ridden Instrumentals, Cex
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