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Kickin' It Rockstar Style

Lo Fidelity Allstars
How To Operate With A Blown Mind

When you typically think of electronic artists, it's inevitable that one and two-person groups usually come to mind. Other than a couple groups who enlist the help of a vocalist, I can't really think of any acts that go over 4 people deep (besides the 9-person collective of Gusgus) on their roster, even for live shows. The Lo Fidelity Allstars are sort of a new breed in the area of electronic music not only because they have 6 members, but because they sort of flaunt the rockstar image that so many other artists in the genre shrug away from. Not only that, but instead of going by regular sounding names, they go by such monikers as "The Albino Priest" and "The Many Tentacles." They're also not so very typical in that they incorporate at least some sort of vocals into nearly every track on their disc. While it does work sometimes, it also greatly increases the chances of bad lyrical content, which the disc unfortunately stumbles onto every so often.

If you have to try to come up with a sound in your head for the group, try mixing in a bit of Fatboy Slim with the Chemical Brothers, then add in Noel Gallagher (the more subdued one of the two) of Oasis for the lead singer and you're getting warm. It all starts out with the shortest track on the release. Vocalist "The Wrekked Train" comes up with some spoken word dementia while some twisted blips and bleeps wrap around behind him. After a minute or so of this, a little piano loop starts up and a huge beat starts to wallop. Some of the other tracks that stretch on for too long could take a hint from the track, which is as catchy as hell in it's down-and-dirty way. From there, it mixes straight into a more old school sound with the beginnings of "Kool Roc Bass." With a healthy dose of scratching and a beat that kicks in with some nice distorted guitar sounds, it's quite a nice track. The best part of it all takes place about two and a half minutes in on a subsequent build and drop until it really starts hitting it. Unfortunately, it sort of runs out of steam near the end and gets a little repetitive.

The next track "Kasparov's Revenge" is one that I simply don't know whether I'm supposed to take seriously or not. It's fairly funky and catchy, but starts out with one of the silliest samples I've every heard talking about the "underground" and what it means. If it's tongue-in-cheek, I'm all for it, but otherwise I'm afraid it comes off as a bit pretentious. After the fairly standard dance track "Blisters On My Brain," the group comes back with the album titled "How To Operate With A Blown Mind," and it comes off as one of the more effective tracks on the disc. Instead of kicking things fast, they slow it down quite a bit with a nice tripped-out beat. The vocals of the track come in over it all in a static-filled field recording sort of way. Eventually, the beat comes in a little louder, but it's never any faster and they pull off the sly track quite nicely. Another track that I think works fairly well is the collaboration with Pigeonhead entitled, "Battle Flag." With what sounds like a human beatbox providing some of the main beat, the track has a nice Funkadelic-esque guitar line and although the lyrics are fairly silly, it's still easy to find your head bouncing to it. "Lazer Sheep Dip Funk" is almost completely explained with it's weird title. It's an excellent number with all-vocodered vocals that draws from both funk as well as disco as influences. Even though it's the longest track on the disc, "Vision Incision" (and I must give them some props on their very cool song titles) works much better than some of the tracks that are a bit shorter and more repetitive.

Overall, it's a hit-or-miss disc that fortunately is a hit more of the time than not. In the end, whether you like it or not will probably largely depend on whether you can handle vocals in your electronic music or not. If so, there's some really good stuff to be found and plenty of music to shake your heiny to. Another Skint big beat group to kick things into overdrive (see also Fatboy Slim and Bentley Rhythym Ace).

Rating: 6.25