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Microcosmic Wonderland - EP

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Album Review

A brief but typically warm and inviting effort from Jim Rao, Microcosmic Wonderland once again demonstrates his mastery at creating lush bedroom pop (indeed, this release was the first in a series celebrating such at-home musicians). Whether it's the wordless croons and sighing tones on the opening "Pacific Ocean Park," a bit of semi-bossa nova confection blended with Pet Sounds and Paris in the springtime, or the purring drone of the concluding "Wind Painting," this is a fine way for a listener to get a sense of Orange Cake Mix's particular approaches. The gauzy, sweet mix of gently distorted keyboards and low-key drum machines swathed in echo is once again Rao's ace in the hole, used to beautiful fashion on "King of Inertia" — which deserves a medal for the title alone, but also for Rao's gorgeous singing and the line, "Just like Madonna sang, get into the groove." His ability with just an acoustic guitar doesn't get ignored either, with "I Just Can't Be Without You Again" overdubbing both that (with a bit of electricity here and there) and his singing for a wounded, melancholic result. All the tracks have something to recommend them — the high keyboard swirl and soft guitar twang combination on "I Heard You Whisper" is as much a worthy standout as the swinging stroll of the movie dialogue-sampling "Some Sweetness."

Biography

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Orange Cake Mix is the nom de plume of Connecticut resident Jim Rao. A prolific singer/songwriter, Rao began scribbling lyrics and humming his own melodies as a child; in the early '90s, Rao started recording his compositions on cassettes. Rao thought of the name Orange Cake Mix while stocking shelves in a supermarket. In June 1995, Rao released his first album, More Mellow Hits. True to its appellation, More Mellow Hits was a collection of acoustic pop inspired by the '70s soft rock of Bread and...
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Microcosmic Wonderland - EP, Orange Cake Mix
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