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Love Songs For Machines

Jake Mandell
Love Songs For Machines
(Carpark Records)

A German by way of Minnesota, Jake Mandell has been creating electronic music for some time now, varying in degrees from more cerebral to slammin things for the dancefloor. On his debut for the up-and-coming (or rather, already here) Carpark label, he's created a batch of excellent electronic tracks that again swing back and forth in terms of style. In the album liner notes, Mandell confesses his love for computers (hence the title) and goes through a touching history of his contact with them, from clumsy 2-bit graphics to wrestling with buggy software then finally coming to embrace the entire package, seeing past the flaws.

The thirteen tracks on the disc follow some of those very paths too, sometimes feeling like they were born of frustration, while others manage to pull things together into a harmonious mixture. Going back to the 2-bit graphics mention, he also blends a surprising amount of older sounds into the release alongside newer elements to create something that is slightly poppy, slightly old-school, and yet quite head bobbing. The opening track on the album "Magik Cirkuits" does just that, pairing some old chiming electronic sounds with a thumping beat while washes swirl in the background.

The second track "The Prince And The Palm" is one that feels like a pop song being pulled out of chaos. After an opening in which different sounds and clacking and gurgling and crashing together, some nice little floating synths come in and pull everything together and by the end, the track has morphed into an almost dancy little pop number without vocals. After another track that pumps a bit more on the BPM side, the album settles down into "Tender Growth From Random Seed," in which cut-up vocals stutter out broken verses while a a more midtempo beat drives everything. It feel sort of like something that could have come off labelmate Marumari's Supermogadon release, but that's hardly a bad thing.

Continuing the slightly darker turn is "From The Chestnut Parapet," which feels like something Boards Of Canada might do if they wacked out their beat structures a little more. One of the coolest tracks on the release is "Tragedy Tears The Triarchy." With an intro that sounds like a twisted, subdued opera set to a beat, the track moves on into a minimal, banging dancefloor pounder. The 50-minute album closes out with the dark ambience of "Archberserk In The Dark" and proves that Mandell can pull off a darn wide variety of sounds. Although it isn't quite as interesting as some of his earlier releases, it's still definitely on the good side of things and you're not going to go wrong with it if you like intelligent electronic music that isn't afraid to put your booty on the dancefloor once in awhile.

Rating: 7