In an alternative universe, The Lappetites might be some sort of an electronic music supergroup. As it stands, the quartet is comprised of some bigger names (Antye Greie (aka AGF), Kaffe Matthews) and some lesser-knowns (Eliane Radigue, Ryoko Kuwajima) who all happened to meet up via an evening playing together at a Matthews curated night at Tonic in New York several years ago. Since then, the four have set about working on music within a digital realm, exchanging files and collaborating via high-speed links, putting together pieces both in person and from remote destinations. The result of their work is their debut album Before The Libretto.
The music of The Lappetites is pretty difficult to label, mainly because it inhabits a world where rhythm and melody don't play any real major part. In fact, this release may very well be one of the more fractured albums I've heard in a long, long time, sounding like a glitched-out art installation project that combines improvised laptop mashes, found sound, spoken word, deconstructed hip-hop, ambient, and several other styles all run through the sonic blender. Words are chopped-up, blips and bleeps fly to and fro, and shattered beats stutter along like they're on their last leg (when they're even recognizable as a rhythm).
As a rough sort of guide to how things go on the release, "Tzungentwist" opens the album with cut-up bits of Japanese words while electronic washes scuffle and shard in the background. "My Within" follows with harsh washes of electronic noise before fluttering into more welcoming sections of off-kilter tonal blends with more cut-up and panned spoken word. There's not a whole lot of flow to the disc as it progresses either, as just about every weird element one could imagine gets tossed into the fray.
"Disaster" sounds like dark, almost industrial-inspired ambient while "Prologue" gets locked into some sort of glitched-out modem meltdown freakout. Amongst the chaos, there are some rather inspired moments, as on the harsh coupling of traditional Eastern instrumentation and almost Mego-like digital breakdowns of "Aikokuka," but as a whole the thirteen track, and over fifty minute album is a bit of a chore unless you're feeling like a real challenge (including more than one song that sounds like it ends right in the middle). If I'm feeling like listening to enjoyable music from four women electronic musicians, I'll just go with 4 Women No Cry.