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What Else Do You Expect From Rephlex?

Bogdan Raczynski
Samurai Math Beats

The first time I heard Squarepusher (on his Hard Normal Daddy release), I thought that he simply had to be insane. The way he mixed wicked, hyper-freaked beats with light little keyboard melodies and other nonsense, it just didn't seem like it could be made by someone in their right mind. When Big Loada came out, it was even more fractured and wicked, and I enjoyed the crap out of it. Then he started going more into the jazz fusion thing (which I'm not knocking or even saying I don't like), and his crazy-ness levels went down quite a bit. So what the hell does this all have to do with Samurai Math Beats, you ask? Let me tell you, Mr. Raczynski has taken those wacky things I liked about the earlier Squarepusher releases and gone to a whole new level with them. I guess I should have known that someone with the name of Bogdan Raczynski simply isn't to be trusted.

Released on the Rephlex label (a virtual breeding grounds for all kinds of goofy electronic geeks), the album is 15 untitled (unless you know Japanese, and I've included some of the titles below for enjoyment) tracks and nearly 60 minutes of utterly wacky beats, shimmering little melodies, and enough funny little voices and samples to keep you chuckling a long time.

Track 1 ("Samurai Math Beats") starts out with a harsh, rumbling beat, but even it doesn't seem that imposing with the light little twinkling noises that are sprinkled over the top. The great part of the track, though, are the "vocals" (and I use that term loosly) that talk about doing ninja moves and karate to help save the galaxy from "dastardly people." It's so completely ludicrous and silly that it sounds like it was improvised on the spot. After one particularly inspired spot, the song rips into double-time on the beats before finally fading down into the slower beginning of Track 2 ("Kimi"). This time, the vocals are back, but they're basically nonsensical ramblings in the form of a treated voice that sounds not unlike Alvin from the Chipmunks.

After the disc thumps through two more crack tracks, number 5 ("I Cry, Bye Bye") comes out of the gates with that same high-pitched voice singing it's nonsense (and even swearing!). Like most of the other tracks on the disc, the musical arrangements flow around the vocal bits in their own strange way. At first it sounds like it's completely freestyle, but there is actually some semblance of order in it all. While Track 5 kind of takes a little break, number 6 ("Sayonara Tsutara") comes out with firing, brutal beats, and it's excellent. Number 7 ("Nan No Tame Ni Boku To Honyaku Shika") starts out with a blast of distortion before dropping off into a spaced-out sample of someone (perhaps Bogdan himself) introducing the track. Its one of the only tracks on the disc that doesn't really rip into things at some point and the miminal, electronic sound (kind of like a strangely distorted harpsichord) provides a nice break at about the halfway point in the disc.

After a couple more tracks, Raczynski completely burns things down for the last part of the disc. Track 12 ("Gaijin Sabetsu, Gaikoku Jichumu") has some of the frenetic, schizo drum machine programming I've ever heard in a song. It blisters along for awhile before dropping off into some weird samples, but picks up each time afterwards and starts chopping again. Track 13 ("Yarichu, Kyoryoku") starts out on kind of a mellow tip, but soon that little voice pops up again and lets out a distorted scream and things kick into motion. He even declares "math" the new music style on track 14 ("Why? Why?").

Basically, if you like the drill and bass stuff with light melodies and completely out-of-control drum programming, this is a disc for you. Although the beats churn and rumble a lot, there's really a light touch to the whole disc and it makes for a great listen. The only downside to the whole thing is that some of the songs seem to blur into one another because they sound so much alike, but it's a small complaint. The packaging is pretty boring as well, but don't let that fool you.

Rating: 7.25