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Test Shot Starfish

Test Shot Starfish
Test Shot Starfish

Kyle Schember and Ryan Stuit have a pretty decent thing going on. The two met on a film set just before the turn of the century and realized that they both had an interest in electronic music. For their "day jobs," the two are sound designers / producers and have worked with a list of clients so vast that it makes my head spin a bit. They've worked on productions for Showtime, ESPN, Toyota, Capital Records, Subaru, BMW, Activision, and the NFL (among others). In addition to that work, they've contributed remixes for Snoop Dogg, Gus Gus, Lenny Kravitz, and Coldplay.

Probably as a way to get music out of their head that doesn't quite fit into the realm of their more commercial work, the duo self-produced and released an EP as Test Shot Starfish a couple years back and this self-titled release is their follow-up. While I'm sure the two find themselves surrounded by more gear than one could shake a stick at, their influences seem to call to mind a slightly more throwback style of electronic music, with groups like The Orb and Orbital coming to mind when listening to their music.

Opening track "Souvenirs" is a perfect example of this, with multiple layers of floaty melodics underpinned by deep bass hits and beats that come in somewhere between the dancefloor and the bedroom. "B Plan" seems to contain many of the same elements, as warm pads mingle with cut-up vocal samples and slightly crunchy beats, but just as the track gets into a smooth groove, it's split apart by rumbling, glitchy breakbeats before falling back into line.

"Sort Of" sounds like it could have arrived straight as a b-side from Snivilisation, with clean, purring basslines and steady beat programming that comes together nicely with minimal melodies and chopped-up spoken word samples. With twelve tracks and over an hour in running length, the release sometimes loses a bit of focus and meanders a bit through warm soundscapes that - while nicely produced - fail to go much of anywhere. "Juno '76" is a three-minute piece of scratchy blips and bloops that breaks up the longer pieces that surrounds it, but little else. At times, the duo breaks into ground that easily stands alongside the solid work that bigger name artists out there create, but unfortunately at others their work sounds like the polished and technically proficient, but often less interesting work that so often accompanies television commercials looking for something cutting edge.

Rating: 6.25