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Softcore Paradise

Acetate Zero
Softcore Paradise
(Drum Kid Records)

Acetate Zero is one of those groups out there making great music that I simply would have never heard about if it hadn't been for the internet. They're a small group located in France who has been making music for a couple years now, and this release of theirs is being re-released on a small label in California. Before the internet, there simply would have been too many miles between us (both times the album was released), but fortunately I ran across it because it's an excellent little disc.

Despite the somewhat unfortunate name (and the fact that it was first released on Orgasm Records), don't be fooled into thinking this is some sort of sex-sounds set to CD. Instead, Acetate Zero makes somewhat melancholic, electronic/organic music that easily fits in alongside the work of Hood, Movietone, and even Flying Saucer Attack. If this release had preceeded major albums by any of those aforementioned groups, it would probably be one looked at as more of a benchmark, but it doesn't take away from the craft on the 18 songs and almost 50 minutes of this disc.

The disc opens with three rather downcast tracks, all built around melancholic acoustic guitars and some other subtle backing instrumentation. Of the three, the opener of "Contemplating The Existence Of The Leaves" is easily the most successful, highlighted by somewhat apprehensive female vocals and a flute melody that compliment one another perfectly. After settling into a very slight malaise, things pick up with the 1-minute "Equilibrium" before really taking off with the warm instrumental of "Departure." Mixing programmed drums with live percussion and guitar melodies that wrap around one another, it builds just slightly enough to release a little tension, while the follow-up remix by Leverkusen lets loose with it even more, busting breakbeats over feedbacked guitars and pushing it into different territory altogether.

It's the remixes that help flesh things out on the release even more, and the slightly clicky Remote Viewer remix again adds some interesting play without losing the feel of things. One of the only real weaknesses of the disc is that without the remixes scattered within, it would probably fail to excite quite as much. As is evidence by tracks like "Christmas Clouds In Negative," (which unfortunately rips an Aphex Twin beat from I Care Because You Do towards the end), they're comfortable mixing things up within their own sound, and I only wish they would have done it a bit more to break the somewhat dour feeling that the majority of the album has. Still, most music by Hood can't exactly be called uplifting, and it's not a requisite for a good album. If anything, the group keeps things short and to the point most of the time, and that's something that can't always be said for young groups. Hopefully this won't be their only release, because there's some real potential shown on Softcore Paradise.

Rating: 7.25