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Make Animals Happy

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Album Review

The fact that they record for Dubmission Records tells you much of what you'll need to know about this electro-acoustic avant-dub collective, and if it doesn't, then the first two tracks on their debut album will: the first is a relatively brief and thoroughly abstract soundscape titled "Softly Spoken Spell." The second, clocking in at nearly ten minutes, is a masterpiece of freak-out space dub: it opens by defining a rich, dark, and spacious sound space, where the bassline provides the center of gravity and light percussion and wispy keyboards float in from the outer reaches. Gradually the sound thickens, becomes more complex, and then coagulates into a rich dance beat that chugs along in an explicitly reggae fashion. Yes, you've heard this kind of thing before, but for some of us, it just never gets old. "Make Animals Happy" and "History of Dreams" both bustle along somewhat grimly but very effectively, while "Whale Salt Dog" is just plain crazy: chords and echo effects ebb and flow like an ocean tide in fast motion while disembodied voices chuckle and a wryly simplistic beat holds everything together. "Nightbreak" and "Arab Star" explore a less interesting house mode, but "Solid State" takes Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech and sets it, pretty thrillingly, to Tackhead-style dub-funk. Here's hoping for much more like this in the future.

Make Animals Happy, Warp Technique
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