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Music Is A Hungry Ghost

To Rococo Rot And I-Sound
Music Is A Hungry Ghost
(Mute/City Slang)

Although I enjoyed previous releases by To Rococo Rot, they've always sounded just a bit too sterile for me. It's not to say that I don't enjoy An Amateur View, but since their music is so tightly composed of small loops and bits, I always wished their was a slight bit less precision. After one track collaborating with New York turntablist Craig Willingham (aka I-Sound), the group has again teamed up with him and in my opinion has come up with their best release to date.

Before you get the idea that I-Sound is ripping up the decks Invisible Skratch Pickle style, let me just say that his contributions are much more atmospheric. Instead of dueling with To Rococo Rot, it's more of him adding slight elements here and there that helps to give the album a much more free feel. Since the 13 tracks were mainly composed first, then given to I-Sound to lay the hisses and other little bits down over things in real time, there's an element of the improvised to the release and although it's a bit startling at times (the almost metallic screeches in "She Tended To Forget"), it makes for a much more engaging listen because you never quite know what's going to creep into the mix next. Not only that, but unlike some groups who don't know when to end things, Music Is A Hungry Ghost keeps things nice and lean at 13 tracks that run just over 45 minutes. If anything, they leave you wanting more in a couple places.

"A Number Of Things" starts off the album with odd siren sounding loops before it settles into sort of a musty groove that recalls the sound of a dishwasher humming away in the next room. It's warm and inviting sounding and with the addition of what sounds like an acoustic guitar, it's much more organic than the startling opening. The next two tracks kick things up a notch as "For A Moment" takes a nice, plunking beat with some actual noticible scratching on top of it (one of the most obvious contributions by I-Sound). "How We Never Went To Bed" ups the ante even more with an almost grinding beat and is probably the most grooving track on the disc.

Those two tracks stand out a bit, as the release is more of a mellow affair than usual for the group. It heads back into that territory again soon with some amazing tracks, including two tracks that include violin playing by Alexander Balanescu. "From Dream To Daylight" is the first of these, and with a mixture of guitar elements, some quiet, gurgling beats, and the violin make it probably the standout on the entire disc. On the next track with his collaboration, the track is a little bit more on the upbeat side, and the snaking violin provides a very slight accent to the squirrely track.

The album closes out with "The Trance Of Travel," and if any track on the album sounds like a tribute to the earlier German greats of Kraftwerk, it's this one. The slowly progressing track lives up to its title quite nicely and if you're looking for a road-tripping single to "Autobahn," this one is a natural. While there are a couple tracks that feel more like afterthoughts (both the minute-long "Koku" and the short "She Tended To Forget" are slightly noodled together), even those work well in the context of the album and only leave you wanting to hear a bit more. After the 45 minutes are over, though, all you have to do is hit repeat.

Rating: 7.75