Review: Below Code

16-cardTerre Thaemlitz is pretty cool, and he’s got his own label, Comatonse , and has had it for a long time. For the 10th anniversary, he compiled Below Code. The original release was a CD in a DVD case filled with postcards for each song (the image to the right is for the last track); it was a limited edition of 250 given away for free. For those of us who missed that, though, he put up the complete contents (plus a bonus track) available for free download. (Just use the arrow buttons at the top to navigate through.)

It’s a pretty cool compilation. Not all of it is great, but most of it is pretty cool. “10 Years of Amazing Demo Tapes” is basically what it sounds like — a razor-tape of various demos. “Form and Trauma” is an off-kilter rock song — the vocals aren’t really that great, but it is pretty cool. “Bob Foxy/Midnight Sexy” is sort of similar to this vein.

Family Guy fans will probably recognize “The Lonely Man Theme” as a cover of the “sad, walking away” music from The Incredible Hulk — it actually opens with a sample of Lou Ferrigno congratulating Comatonse on the anniversary. There’re some more piano based compositions, like “A.D.D. Dance” (a really awesome avant-classical piano song with a drum machine), “Harrodspianos”, which starts like a standard piano composition that gets processed in cool ways

There’re quite a few noisy tracks on here — quite a bit reminded me of Otomo Yoshihide‘s more electronic-noisy stuff; like “Sympathy for a Chump” (vaguely-rhythmic static that goes into a computer voice speaking), “Southside Silence” (modified/processed ambient-noise recordings), “Texts was Subscribed” and “Terre Loves Robin”.

Since most of this compilation is pretty much in the Noise Genre, there’s quite a bit of found recording type things: “Robot Love I Love You” is a small child singing a song (the lyrics are basically the title) that intially threatens to be kind of cutesy and annoying (a la Negativland’s “Clowns & Ballerinas” and “Over the Hiccups” from A Big 10-8 Place and Escape from Noise respectively), but then the recording is cut-up and processed and is actually really cool. I’m assuming that Ralph and Geri Thamelitz are Terre’s parents or otherwise family members — Ralph sings a short, phoned-in song about Lincoln and Geri plays a nice accordion song — I’m not sure if the latter was recorded for this compilation (“Lincoln and Liberty” obviously was), but both have a “found family cassette” type sound to them, and they’re surprisingly cool. And, “N30” is 10 minutes of field recordings from the Seattle WTO protests — it’s not something I’d want to listen to much as there hasn’t been much (if any) processing, but it is still kind of interesting — it doesn’t really get boring.

Three of my favorite tracks are actually really poppy (and two of the three are by Terre, which makes me want to check out his non-Rubato CDs):

“Up’n’Down (Pogo-a-Gogo)” by Yesterday’s Heroes (a project between Terre and Haco) is really, really cool — it’s sort of an art-dance track; very little in the way of different lyrics and pretty minimalist, really, but really keen. I want to get the full Yesterday’s Heroes album.

In a more straight electronica feel, “Singles Collection (Remixed by SND)” by You Speak What I Feel (Terre & SND — couldn’t find any more information on SND, otherwise I’d link, heh) is really cool. I don’t think this is available anywhere else, either, actually. I’d like to hear the non-remixed version, too; this one is really cool, though.

“Rain” by Screech is sort of a world-pop kind of thing; cool percussion in it. And, to do a sort of weird looping back thing, Screech released some stuff through Hippocamp, which also put out Hippocamp Ruins Pet Sounds (though Screech didn’t appear on that comp).

Anyway, though — it’s a pretty cool compilation, and it’s free! So, hey, what more could you ask for?

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