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Album Review

Granted, the Mego label has never been known for its light music. Nevertheless, Palimpsest is surprisingly harsh, difficult, and headache-inducing. That being said, it also provides a fascinating listen and a highly disorienting experience, but it is clearly not for anyone but the most serious fans of experimental computer music. Since his groundbreaking album Solo for Wounded CD, Yasunao Tone has been charting territories of harsh digital malfunctions and binary manipulations. Hecker may be slightly more fond of analog sound envelopes (as his previous Mego releases testify), he remains a man of the digital age and his modus operandi — loud, fragmented sounds in constant motion — has often brought him comparisons to the Japanese sound artist. A collaboration was somewhat inevitable and the results are as manic as one could have predicted. Spread across four tracks that will require several listens before acquiring individual characters, the music consists of a relentless barrage of bouncing tones, ricocheting in every direction, and constantly stopped short in their movements. Call it retro-futuristic computer music (there is an undeniable Commodore-64 quality to the sounds) or sine wave breakdancing, it is an extremely exhausting, in-your-face, cold display of artistry. The title track takes up more than half of the album and presents the esthetics of this collaboration from A to Z. Follow two remixes/alternates of Tone and Hecker's first collaborative piece, "Man'Yo #36-37," the original of which was released in 2000 on the CD accompanying the book/exhibition Mutations. The final piece is untitled and the shortest at four minutes. It introduces much denser textures, achieving a level of saturation akin to Merzbow, with the grating sound of Koji Asano's most abrasive process pieces. Serious listeners interested in either artist's work will appreciate this album and should not find it very surprising. ~ François Couture, Rovi

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