Delay Explode (with AGF)

[AGF Produktion; 2005]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: minimal electro, experimental electronic, dub, glitch
Others: Bjork, Laub, Mu, Tarwater

Explode is the self-released debut from AGF/Delay, a continental European duo comprising Antye Greie-Fuchs (vocalist/programmer for the German group Laub, in addition to her other releases as AGF) and Finland's Vladislav Delay. A match made in heaven, this collaboration has resulted in a beautiful and intricately-produced album with much to offer both the casual listener and the more sophisticated experimental-oriented audiophile.

AGF/Delay are not likely to win many hearts among the Neo-Con/hard-right Republican crowd in the U.S (a visit to the web site of their distributor, Mutualism Distribution and More, shows a real-time running tally of the cost of the war in Iraq). Explode is an audacious reaction to politics the duo clearly find particularly repugnant: the neo-imperialism currently underway in The United States and the embarrassingly pointless violence and cultural destruction that have been the legacy of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The liner notes explain that the album's title itself was inspired by the story of a female Palestinian law student who, despite having her youth and a potentially successful future ahead of her, nonetheless carried out a suicide bombing attack in Israel. Conceptually, this release is a response to the deeper meaning and motivating factors behind the apparent abject senselessness of such an act. The AGF/Delay website itself provides further background on the anti-capitalist philosophy behind the album ("this record is dedicated to nature/the clean lakes and wide land of simplicity and reduced consuming terror").

AGF/Delay have taken a reasonably minimalistic approach to the construction of this record. Explode features little more than drums (provided by Vladislav Delay) and vocals from Greie-Fuchs. Increasing the volume, however, gradually allows the listener to uncover a deeper sophistication and tonal complexity to the album. AGF's vocals consist mostly of meandering, often abstract spoken-word passages conveyed as a response to contemporary politics and culture. Musically, the record is uniformly simplistic and clinically spare, although occasionally punctuated with pleasantly warm, hazy passages. The album's highlight is "Break Doors," a dubby, seductive homage to The Doors ("Break on Through" would be operative track here), while its most experimental track is its closer, the eerie "From Morning On."

Greie-Fuchs and Delay complement each other remarkably on this album, displaying a confident, mature symbiosis. Greie-Fuchs' spoken-word delivery, while adding a theatrical "performance art" vibe to the proceedings, is suitably offset by Delay's beat-grounded programming. Despite its mostly cool, sterile minimalism, however, Explode is both provocative and sexy. AGF's vocals themselves are reminiscent of a sexier, more mature Bjork. There is an undeniably sultry, Brechtian cabaret overtone to the album that clearly stems from the AGF half of the duo. Overall, it's a release that delivers substantially on its promise of provocation coupled with a quaint simplicity.

1. Do Protest
2. Explode Baby
3. All Lies on Us
4. A Distant View
5. Causing a Taifun
6. Restrict
7. Break Doors
8. Useless
9. Recorded
10. Slow Living
11. Distributor
12. From Morning On