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Plastic Crimewave Sound - No Wonder Land

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Artist: Plastic Crimewave Sound

Album: No Wonder Land

Label: Eclipse

Review date: Feb. 27, 2006

The more I dig into this newest Plastic Crimewave Sound double LP, Steve Krakow’s second proper album in this guise, the more I hesitate to describe it using that popular appellation with the silent P. Oh yeah, it can be pretty loud, much of the music submerged in shockwaves of feedback and delay, but how organized and lucid it all is. Levels of timbral, even orchestral, detail emerge in ways only glimpsed in earlier releases. The brutally chilling “Into the Future” deposits layers of the most transparent guitar mud, twangy and fuzzed out, over some sort of punchy post-punk bass groove, soaked with the clear-and-present danger of distantly shrill synth jittering. Vocoded mantras, most contoured to end on the same droning pitch, add to the tune’s cliché but effective gestalt of mechanized fear. It works similarly to Gary Numan’s “Down in the Park” until the end, where a brilliantly obscure flash of vaguely Latin percussion infringes, ala Santana’s “Soul Sacrifice.” (Or was it really always there?)

It’s a strangely iconic historical vision; PCS doesn’t go for pure studio experimentation in a pop frame; you won’t find anything here like Tomorrow’s “My White Bicycle,” with its tape flips and ahead-of-their-time manufactured beats. The drums are usually wet but hot, almost early 1980s in presentation. There’s plenty of scree on tracks like “Far In/Out,” but the album is equally full of beautiful Eastern waftiness – acoustic guitars, miasmic stretches of tabla and sitar, even orchestral strings! It’s as if Krakow has constructed a loosely defined musical in honor of the ’60s and what followed, each side of the album prefaced by some spoken poetry courtesy of high-powered guests like Tara Burke and Devendra Banhart. The effect is enhanced by bits of musique concrete, like the hugely disproportionate and industrial door-slamming and footsteps, manipulated almost out of recognition, that usher in the first instrumental track. The whole thing is really fantastic, best absorbed in one sitting, as PCS fosters his uniquely inclusive take on rock’s recent history.

By Marc Medwin

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