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Manchurian Candy

Manchurian Candy

Blasting out of similar territory as his peer Com.A (who released the spaztastic Shot Of Love last year), Utabi is a Japanese electronic artist that mashes genres like he's flipping a switch and pumps out electronic music with a sense of humor and an extreme short attention span. After creating a debut entirely on an old-school Sharp X68000 computer (yeah, that's only a couple steps up from a Little Professor), he got bit by the PC bug and now tromps out music that has a slightly more updated feel, but still retains much of the sounds from his 8-bit days.

Manchurian Candy is 15 tracks and just over an hour of hyperactive Nintendo melodies, chopped-up beats, and enough silly soundbites and headspining programming to keep your ears perked. The first three tracks are all about the rhythm, too, as they burst out of the gate with stuttering, slamming beats and only enough breathing room to fire off some indecipherable samples. It's on "Three Tennies," though, that the melodic side of the release first makes and appearence and gets stuck in your head. With playful melodies that rival the bubbly sounds of great Mouse On Mars tracks, the entire thing bounces along and builds nicely, punching and pulling the beats appropriately.

The rest of the album wildly swings back and forth between more hyperactive beat programmed tracks and ones that rely more on melody. One of the best examples of a blending of the two arrives on the title track of "Manchurian Candy," as hyper cut-up vocals stick and bounce at mindboggling speeds, recalling some of the great work of Aphex Twin. Overall, the album runs a tad on the long side, though, as the release blurs together a bit too much during a couple different places as similar-sounding tracks pile onto one another. Just when you think things are simply too crazy, the album closes with the absolutely amazing "Cassia Angustifolia," an ambitious 12-minute track that features vocals, trombone, melodion, and guitar in a track that bucks some of the micro-processed sounds for a more song-like track that's one of the better electronic pop tracks I've heard lately. There's definitely some fun to be had besides the closing track, but if it's any pointer in the direction of future music by Utabi, there's even better work to come.

Rating: 6.5