Healamonster & Tarsier
Like the Gorillaz before them, Healamonster & Tarsier are cartoon characters creating music. Unlike the Gorillaz, though H & T don't have the power of MTV behind them, and they also actually admit to being real-life people. On their first release, 00:00:01, the two Brooklynites draw from a wide palette of sounds and influences, from jungle to a touch of hip hop and smidge of ambience. Programmed beats mingle with piano melodies, digitally processed glitchery, and both male and female vocals for a varied 8 track release.
The release opens with what is probably one of the best tracks on the release in "Nag Chompy Raiine." Drifting female vocals by Tarsier float over a light piano melody and subtle tone washes before an a chunky, distorted beat drops in and thuds away behind it all. Fortunately, it doesn't overwhelm the vocals, and they soar even more towards the close of the track. "Can U Spare A Tuba?" follows it up with an odd little sound collage of horn samples (naturally) that drift over another pounding beat and a garbled spoken word sample of what sounds like a crazy man ranting rises up from the depths every once in awhile. "Hamster Wheel" starts out very nicely, with another pretty piano melody mingled with a grimy organ while beats click and clack in the background. About halfway through, though, the track drifts off into synth strings and male vocals rise up in the mix for the first time. Although they add a nice layer when Tarsier again comes back in, the nasally interlude where they're in the spotlight throws the track off a bit.
Elsewhere, the album mainly lets loose with a batch of rumbling IDM workouts. "Creekside Instra MENTAL!!!" mixes some chugging beats over the top of warbling synth lines, while the album closer of "Heala Killa (HMT Remix)" rolls through almost 8 minutes of hard breakbeat programming with ocassional vocals and a middle-section of squiggly synths and echo effects. It's interesting for awhile, but simply drags on for too long, spinning through the same vocal phrasings over and over while blasting back into the frantic beats after a couple downtimes. Even though it's not listed, the odd little closing track of only muted vocals by Tarsier and what sounds like a childrens toybox is even more involving, sounding like something Bjork might do (although I can't understand the language in which the vocals are sang). In the end, there are some interesting ideas on the long EP/short full-length, but it doesn't stick with anything (other than the final track) long enough to let it sink in. These cartoons is crazy, but I'd be curious to see how they sounded if they refined things a bit more.