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Nick Forte - Pasted Lakes

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Artist: Nick Forte

Album: Pasted Lakes

Label: Schematic

Review date: Sep. 17, 2003

As half of the duo Christmas Decorations, Nick Forte has proven himself to be highly versed in lo-fi ambience and sonic manipulation – both talents he used to their fullest extent on the duo’s well-received Kranky label debut. Fine tuning these skills, Forte has managed to drop his first solo foray on yet another hip label, Schematic, who are quickly outpacing their European counterparts in the electronic weirdness department with releases such as this.

Pasted Lakes is composed of the reprocessed remains of Forte’s first journey into the realm of computer music. He acknowledges the Minutemen’s early singles and Wire’s Pink Flag as inspiration when chopping up his original source material and it shows. Being a mini-LP, most of the fifteen tracks fly by in under two minutes and in their hyperdelic speed and erratic pacing resemble many of the short bursts of noise that came out of Japan and within the Zorn camp in the early ’90s. Seeing how many of those sounds were sculpted under the influence of hardcore punk and the occasional death metal rant provides a clear connection to Forte’s line of reference. Of course, being a former member of Rorschach could have something to do with it, not that there is a screamed vocal or thrashed guitar in the entire batch.

The opener “Green Language” is actually the longest track at an epic four and a half minutes and succeeds in setting the tone of Pasted Lakes. An erratic bass pulse collides with a disarrangement of random samples, all barely anchored by the rush of a warm synthetic vox-like refrain. This pattern of offsetting chaos with the accessible and familiar applies to the majority of the longer tracks on Lakes. On the aptly titled “Blender Dance”, a distinct pre-programmed Casio beat mixes it up with chattering blurts of rhythmic patter and loads of tape noise. Even the staunch postpunk guitar of “Thistle Rue” can barely keep pace with competing basslines and a hefty dose of metallic percussion, before being propelled into oblivion. When the vaguely familiar becomes too obvious, however, these tracks begin to drag and fall apart at the seams, as the generic synth work in “Forgotten Music” and the otherwise wonderfully demented hospital machines gone awry anthem of “Wolf Cry” attest.

Forte’s shorter tracks have one of two effects: Either passing by without notice or leaving one to ponder what a more complete and focused work may have wrought. The skewed timing and warped bass of “Sugar Lemoned” could easily compete with the best of the Basic Channel catalogue if it lasted longer than one minute. None of these short pieces have the overall power and spastic energy that made the aforementioned groups’ 60-second bursts such lasting impressions. Rather they seem too haphazardly cut and pasted, hungering one for substance.

Bits and pieces of Pasted Lakes do sound fascinating; one can imagine that the computer music from which they are derived has its moments. Unfortunately, on the resulting collage, most of those moments seem lost in the translation.

By Everett Jang Perdue

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