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Cex - Starship Galactica

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Artist: Cex

Album: Starship Galactica

Label: Temporary Residence

Review date: Apr. 24, 2005

Starship is a reissue from IDM’s Eminem, Rjyan Kidwell, AKA Cex. Originally released in 2001 on infinitesimal Brit imprint 555 Recordings, Starship received a few curtain-calls from the usual critical suspects, allegedly because it fused a nexus between Boards of Canada warble and Kid 606’ tendency to dissolve into dissonance.

Bold claims aside, a squinted gaze allows a conditional agreement to selected bits of the aforementioned: Sure, Cex often scrapes sounds from the same sonic palate as those luminaries, but he constructs his art in such a lackadaisically arrogant way, that any flash of talent that emits from Starship is just that: Vapor.

And then there’s the “humor.” Remarkably, the track “Hi Scores” bottles the essence of Cex in a mere 48 seconds: Bed’s springs signify movement; female moans signify ecstasy; Cex’s masculine exhortations signify (coital?) engagement; and then the video-game jingle intrudes – all while the female cooing continues. So, coital’s question mark falls away, and listeners are left wondering why they assumed that Cex was “tapping that ass” instead of mouth-breathing over a PlayStation.

“Hi Scores” is Cex as clever “culture jammer,” as self-congratulating egghead subverting established paradigms. Jim O’ Rourke has had mixed success with his foray into assaulting the polis’ conceptual hardwiring, but his music-as-thinkpiece is disseminated with way more wit than wank.

The most substantial track on Starship is “Bunky,” a 12:34 study in influence. The borrowed Kraftwerk click beats of Trans Am are removed with a (literal) flip of the dial; Cagean silence then sprints into a handheld recording of Kidwell ripping some hecklers. This, too, is subjected to the short attention span surf, with a “punk” rendition of “Starship Galactica” fronted by what sounds like an inebriated frat-boy slurring over a Sham 69 cover band.

Apparently, Starship is what happens when chutzpah is mistaken for the cerebral: With so many music writers heralding Kidwell as a laptop “magician,” stale gestures and derivative drivel is correlative to avant sonic sorcery. And with a seemingly endless spool of Cex imitators spawned from this mess, those in the know are left wondering when the spell will wear off.

By Stewart Voegtlin

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