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Charade Is Gold

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Album Review

Before re-emerging as the ensemble you hear on Charade Is Gold, Pulseprogramming had a previous life that began in the late ‘90s, when Joel Kriske and Mark Hellner blended synthesizer lines with skittering electronic beats for a sound that bounced back and forth between IDM and the more electronic end of the post-rock spectrum. Cut to 2011: it's been eight years since the last proper Pulseprogramming album, and the group now consists of Hellner and Chanel Pease. While the previous incarnation of the project seemed to embrace the digital landscape of late-‘90s/early-2000s electronica, Charade Is Gold goes for a warm, dreamy, analog-sounding approach. Where Pulseprogramming's past work felt rather forward-looking, Charade Is Gold casts a glance back toward the past, specifically to the ‘80s. Most of the tracks here evoke the early-‘80s synth pop sound of acts like Yaz, OMD, Thomas Dolby, et al. But this isn't a rote reproduction of that style — for one thing, Hellner's vocals, though consistently low-key, have a bit of a post-punk feel, occasionally bearing a similarity to the late Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis (especially on the opening track, "Perfect Problematic"). And the whole album has a hazy, dreamy feel that's far more atmospheric and ethereal than most of what emerged from electro-pop's golden age. Pease's vocals also work as an ace in the hole for Pulseprogramming — when her voice pops up, it adds a sort of Mazzy Star-ish aspect to the proceedings, accentuating the intimacy of the album's vibe. While Charade Is Gold takes some cues from the past, it's by no means in thrall to nostalgia. ~ J. Allen, Rovi

Biography

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Pulseprogramming is centered around Joel Kriske and Marc Hellner, but the group is a multimedia entity, including art directors (John Schacter and Hans Seeger), a video artist (Eric Johnson), and a poet (Joel Craig). Kriske and Hellner originally based the group in Portland, OR, but they eventually set up shop in Chicago. The first self-titled album -- predominantly a work of ambient IDM -- was released in 1999 on Chicago's Aesthetics. A pair of limited-edition albums followed in 2001, the first...
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Charade Is Gold, Pulseprogramming
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