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The CD2 Sessions

Alec Empire
The CD2 Sessions
(Digital Hardcore Recordings)

This is the first in a series of re-earthed recordings that will soon be making their way out on Digital Hardcore Recordings. The gist of matters is that Alec Empire records every show that he DJs and/or performs, and in the case of a particularly interesting set, they may see the future light of day as recorded output. This first is from an ICA show, and it consists of almost entirely new material. Even the tracks that have previously seen release (there are a couple off the recent Intelligence And Sacrifice) are almost completely reworked, something that Empire (and most electronic musicians) are fond of doing.

Interestingly enough, this is probably one of my favorite releases that I've ever heard from Empire. Tracks are fairly loose, but still aggressive and even suffocating at times. The disc opens with the almost 13-minute long "S.U.C.T.I.O.N." and it's all squiggling electronics, thunderous swells of gronky keyboards, and beats that range from clean to almost completely decimated. The track just sort of lurches along like some evil beast in an old b-grade horror movie, and just about the time you think its going to die, it starts twitching again. "Synthetic Movement" follows it up with a clanging string-synth laden electrofunk rumbler, while "Technological Warfare" starts out on a more experimental kick before again belching forth red-lined drum loops.

Two of the tracks from the aforementioned Intelligence And Sacrifice are reworked exactly as mentioned above. "Alec's Ladder" is turned into a completely free-style sounding squelching blipfest while "2641998" rumbles with the same beat as the album track but swarms with a blistering batch of electronic insect sounds before storming back into something closer to the original. There are moments where nearly everything drops out, providing just a quick breather before everything comes pummeling back, and it's those dynamics that Empire excels at on this release.

There are a couple tracks on the release that don't do quite as much, but they still have a live energy that works pretty well. "The Gameboy Off-Show" is all 8-bit pings and plonks that goes on for too long while "Electric Body Rock" suffers the same semi-cheesy fate as the album version of the same track, sounding sort of like a bad remake of Afrika Bambaataa's classic "Planet Rock." Unfortunately, the album never really comes back with the same force as the opening tracks after about the midway point, and the more experimental latter half of the album may be a bit trying for those hoping for more of the blunt-force beats. Still, though, the 60-minute release is one of the best samplings of the different instrumental styles that Empire has been working on lately, and there's everything from industial-tinged electronic thumpings to hyper-experimental noise (the closing track of "Low Down") to just about everything in-between.

Rating: 7.25