Exit Music Review SectionMusic Review Navigation Menu
Original Instrument

Original Instrument

Kracfive is a label as well as sort of a collective of four different fellows who go under different pseudonyms and have released 10 different offerings on their label over the course of the past couple years. Recording under different names (Colongib, Octopus Inc, Kettel, and Miragliuolo), the group also came together for a group effort called Penguin Mechanics in which the only rule was that the music had to be constructed from sounds of machines.

The same four fellows are now back again under the guise of Original Instrument, and this time the rule that they laid down for themselves is that the only sound source they could use for the recording is the human voice. Although far from a completely original concept (beat-boxers have been doing it for decades, and people like Bobby McFerrin have scored top 10 singles with the process), the arena has been completely blown open with digital technology, and that's exactly what Original Instrument exploits. Although most of the time the samples used are recognizable as voices, they've been chopped, cut-up, and distorted so much they're turned into something quite different.

Although the majority of the album falls into sort of a bizarre, netherworld of glitchy IDM (that sounds almost surreally organic), the collective also explores lots of other areas as well. After starting out the album with the fun, skittering vocal bit-cuts and chunky beat of "Bop Me," they drop the cut-up hip-hop sounds of "Lum Club." They even explore more stretched-out, droning tracks with "Sion" and the super creepy "Conversong" (in which vocals are slowed down so much that they're turned into a creepy funhouse moan).

Of course, offsetting those darker sounding tracks are ones like "Birds For Beginners," in which the group creates a goofy chorus of "oohs" and "ahs" that sounds like the reincarnation of "Yello" before they drop some bizarre, almost vocodored vocals, making it one of the most pop sounding tracks on the release (if that's even possible). On "Coughio" they even turn (as you could expect from the title) a series of coughs and sneezes into something quite hilarious.

Being the pranksters that they seem to be, the group even includes "lyrics" to all the tracks on the disc, which sometimes consist of the following example, "aa aa mmm neee this is isis." It's like they transcripted the tracks phonetically, skips, glitches and all, reminding me of a silly game I used to play with my roomate in college called "techno karoake" in which we'd basically recreate our favorite dance tracks with vocal oddities. In the end, it doesn't have quite the repeated listening power of something like Matmos' A Chance To Cut Is A Chance To Cure, but it's still a fun release, and something you should check out if you're interested in novel concepts in electronic music.

Rating: 7