Nathan Michel ABC DEF

[Tigerbeat6; 2002]

Styles: IDM, experimental, glitch
Others: DAT Politics, Lesser, Oval, Christian Fennesz, Nobukazu Takemura

Nathan Michel is one of the newest fellows on the Tigerbeat6 block, and although he doesn't rock the thumping beats as much as some of his cohorts, he has a sense of humor that finds him on similar stomping ground and a willingness to chew up and spit out digital music. Even his album title is somewhat of a little play on the first six letters of the alphabet, leaving me wondering whether you simply announce the album title as it's stated or with a defiant emphasis on the last three (as in, 'Yo! It's ABC DEF!').

Despite having released some seriously scatterbrained albums before, ABC DEF is very much up there on the twitchy scale. Flitting about with all kinds of different sound sources and manipulation, the release is comprised of 10 tracks that run just over 40 minutes long, but it feels something more like 20-plus tracks of 2 minutes or less. It's music for those with a short attention span, and like many releases on the label, it's playful and definitely doesn't take itself too seriously. Something like Dat Politics with even less of a song structure, blip heads will definitely get their fill.

Case in point arrives right away in the form of "Hello (Constant Sorrow)." Despite the title, the track swishes all over the place, starting out with some lo-fi keyboard pings and processed sound before a drunked Sousa-like horn sample fades in. In turn, some string samples pile on top of it along with a bunch of glitchy electronics, and soon everything is decimated into silence. Finally, a record needle hits the wax for a short burst of old show-tune before the track finishes up with a Casio-glitch pop track. The second track "Six-Teen" comes in much shorter at exactly one minute, and fortunately only explores one idea, sounding like the music an alien brass section might play.

One of the best tracks on the disc ("Untitled") starts out with a brilliant layering of pitter-patter beats and layered, looped melodies that again sound like they poured out of a kiddy keyboard. About halfway through, the melody gets slowed down and run through the blender as live drum sounds and all kinds of clicks and chirps rain down. "Where Do Some Small Birds Live?" again has one of those downright 'cute' melodies in which the track is built at first, but again starts layering on different low-end hums and twitchy electronic sounds before skronking out toward the close.

This is one of those releases that combines a love of lo-fi sounds with serious digital deconstruction. The majority of sounds on the disc sound like they were sampled or played from really old instruments (or old records), then chopped and diced and spat all back out again in somewhat random order. While there are tracks in which some sort of structure is established, mainly the disc is content to run all over the place, bursting into moments of static or sharp little shards of high-pitched tones, somewhat like an even goofier version of Lesser. While there are little moments of melody to hang your ear on, mainly it's a nonstop ride through an environment in which squeaks and squirts rule in haphazard ways. It's fun not knowing what will come next, but all the random bits and hodgepodges make it frustrating as heck sometimes too.

review also found here

1. Hello (Constant Sorrow)
2. Sixteen
3. Pound Louder
4. untitled
5. Where Do Some Small Birds Live?
6. Mars, Like a Rock
7. Hosey
8. Thirty Six to Forty Two
9. Mufice
10. Tones Pathétique

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