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Blue Ramen

Low Res
Blue Ramen
(Plug Research)

Just when I think I've sort of got the Plug Research label kinda figured out, they go and drop something completely new and confound me even more. After dropping the glitch-pop/dub Parts Water by Safety Scissors, the mindblowing Life Is Full Of Possibilities by DNTEL, and the droney, minimal electronics of Overnight by Chessie, I thought they'd already mixed things up pretty well, but Low Res proves there's plenty of room left to wander. Formerly known as one D. Zelonky, Blue Ramen is unique in that it takes electronic music and gives it a human feel while still keeping its creation in the machine realm.

That statement probably doesn't make complete sense, and neither does the music while listening to it. Ever a meticulous fellow, Zelonky took the sounds of old keyboards and organs, as well as other electronic elements and instead of programming everything in precise ways, has done what was probably an amazingly insane job and done everything up to sound like it was played by an ensemble. The album skewers jazz, free jazz, salsa music, and even a touch of soundtrack music in creating something that will probably take more than one listen to appreciate.

Sort of the opposite of what Atom Heart has done with his Senor Coconut albums (taking a very organic sort of music and pushing it into realms where it could have never gone by using machine technology), Zelonky has taken what might sound like a cheesy batch of keyboard-based tracks and turned them into off-kilter electronic jazz workouts, and it's interested to hear how everything behaves. Percussion doesn't always keep perfect time, and organs and keyboards sound like there's a human at the controls and everyone is playing off one another. "Shaftasia" starts out the album with a bit of a kooky Latin feel, while "Bailamami! (Parts 1 And 2)" shuffles off into a bizarre jazz workout, building into one of the loudest (and most interesting) tracks on the album.

The problem with the album is that if you weren't aware of how it was created, it becomes a lot easier to dismiss it. While Spring Heel Jack has been tearing it up and sorting it out with their two experimental jazz releases in the Blue Series, this release by Low Res mainly moves with sort of a meandering pace, literally making stylistic shift after shift without really settling into any common theme. When listening to tracks like the amazing "Inverse Shift," one can't help but feel a bit staggered by the amount of work and effort that went into creating it, but there are also tracks like "Dirty Serenade," which could be mistaken for a lackluster freestyle jam on a Casio keyboard if it weren't for knowing the brick-by-brick construction technique of the release. Supposedly, he's going to try to take the show on the road to try to re-create and re-interpret sounds from the release (which should be quite an interesting sight), but despite the technical achievement of it all, there isn't a lot to stick to your ribs.

Rating: 6.25