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Album Review

Once again on his own, on Data Rape Sonic Boom created an appropriately mysterious and cryptic approach thanks to his unusual instrument setup. The base instruments he worked with were in fact 1970s vintage "speak and spell" toys — as Sonic puts it in the liner notes, "human voice synthesizers." Eight were treated and fooled around with, an array of extra effects and sonic possibilities the overall result. The end result is something which is somehow uniquely E.A.R. in its combination of strange alien chill and unexpected warmth, standing out all the more so because it doesn't resemble earlier E.A.R. efforts. While there are drones and ambient background and more, being totally divorced from both his usual keyboard array or guitar experimentation results in a different feel, however familiar the overall context. Recognizable words barely surface; instead, snippets of what could be conversation sometimes echo through the mix or loop around in it without ever resolving itself into something solid. More often the results simply become music, high-circling tones and chimes, ringing bells echoing off into infinity, or static-generated rhythms building on top of each other to create a strange, flowing collage that's not quite pure noise but isn't anything else. Five shorter cuts intersperse themselves amidst three long ones, but the general feel of the album is of one varied, all-over-the-place piece with occasional silences. There are more active songs — the third track places emphasis on regularly ringing rhythms rising high and low, while the concluding song has almost metallic spikes kicking into the static wash. Other calmer if not less unsettling compositions appear — track four has a distinct "aliens from beyond" theme to it, only without the theremins or similar instruments Sonic would normally favor for such pieces.


Formed: 1993

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Experimental Audio Research -- E.A.R. for short -- was a loosely affiliated assembly of performers primarily spearheaded by Spectrum frontman Sonic Boom; from time to time, the group also included, among others, My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields, God's Kevin Martin, and AMM's Eddie Prevost. As a revolving exercise in guitar-based noise, each E.A.R. release radically differed from the ones preceding it, spanning the divide between weightless ambience and dense sheets of feedback; the project was...
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Data Rape, Experimental Audio Research
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