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V/A - Wanna Buy A Craprak?

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Artist: V/A

Album: Wanna Buy A Craprak?

Label: Carpark

Review date: Apr. 10, 2003

Purchase in Good Conscience

If a carpark is the depository of the incandescently strange, the old reminiscent banks of youthful nostalgia, a playful game of trans-gendered musical chairs, a cross-dressing rock opera wearing laptop fetishes, the final proclamation of the penultimate hybridity: emo-electro – then you've birthed a wailing cacaphony of screaming beauty. Carpark, an oddball label outta NYC that has cemented its releases with a touch of San Francisco – notably the ever-eccentric and brilliant Joshua Kit Clayton, Max/MSP programmer extraordinaire, man of madness Kid 606 and SF-ex-pat-now-German Safety Scissors – and a breath of the "East:" marumari, so takahashi, ogurusu norihide, takagi masakatu...and then there's Greg Davis, Jake Mandell, hrvatski, Freescha, and Casino versus Japan...well, Carpark reassembles what "previously went together" so it somewhat "perversely goes together" in a very sincere, down-to-earth fashion. So now you know what to expect: strange and experimental hybrid and cross-over electronic beats, scapes to blow the socks far from the dryer, loops and repetition, stutters and storm drain samples, down into the carpark, stumbling and seeing the hallucinations, rubbing your eyeballs, enough to drink the rest of that whisky and yell: craprak!

Like all Various Artist samplers intent on becoming more than their namesake, Wanna Buy A Craprak? attempts to weave a narrative of continuity and contiguity at some level of sound that makes clear a conceptual overall – this remains exceedingly difficult on this disc, as tracks such as Greg Davis' "brocade" and So Takahashi's "blue, blue, electronic blue" embrace guitar-string repetition and Touch-styled ambience respectively while kit clayton vs. safety scissors indulge in Nitrus toothpaste in restitching Mathew Patterson Curry's voice into a warbling fruit ripe for Joshua's underage fondling. The crossovers occur in mood as well as style. From ambience we move to Ogurusu Norihide's "5:00," which is the closest to instrumental emo I've ever come; plaintive country ballads, minus Texas. Then: dinky, which marks the electroc(l)ash, bleeps and bloops section that comes close to sounding painfully obligatory in its poppy be-boop and ethereal spoken-lyrics. Freescha toys with darker electro, and comes out somewhere in post-tech-house land covered in the dirt dug from this underground slide, which gracefully and thankfully drops us in Casino vs. Japan's aquavelvet pool, aptly entitled "aquarium." (If anything, this is the pleasure dub only dreamed of in Neuromancer's Babylon. Sweet angels serving coke. Etc.).This carries on, as we are now in post-trip-out sessions for the drugged and mentally mild. The Kid606 strikes up a lowbrow approach reminiscent of his minimal techno charades rather than his splice-and-dice, and the result is surprisingly Reichian. The pop couldn't be held at bay for long, however, and Takagi Masakatsu returns with that happy-happy-boingy-boingy semi-nostalgia IDM lite. Hrvatski takes over, full on post-rock and mic'ed frets on this jam with what sounds like an accordian. Things backflip at this point with Signer's "Interior Dub," a stunning dub-track that captures the basic slow-drip essence so tough to recall from every Burial Mix record, but here overlain with blue-skyed pads and a mellowed white-boy singing something sad in the far depths that eventually rises on out to kiss the dead. Honestly, the apocalypse might as well arrive as Jake Mandell's final kicker, "beartrap," is epic chord-cuts that rescramble the references – the sharp crack of Pole, the whisper of Kit Clayton's dubbed lessons in deepness, the acid madness of Kriesel – and ties down the whole structure with a slowly messed agglomeration of tortured beats, deep bass, and nipple plucking instrumentation. Ends in feedback. Destroys itself. Reminds me – in a very good way – of the insanity of Speedy J's Public Energy No. 1.

Can you pick the theme? Colour in the dots? Join up the lines? If you can, it probably rings true as something akin to "good." Carpark's Craprak showcases the poppy and the serious on this disc, and more often than not, the serious outshines the poppy shloppy 4:1 on average (bets are in, running high at the height of the 8th, Fall of Baghdad on the down).

This CD is also super special and thus plays a movie by 242 Pilots (music by Justin Bennett) and videos for tracks by Takagi Masakatsu, Marumari, and Jake Mandell. The increasing trend of including multimedia CDs and DVDs is a good one – although it requires the presence of a computer or DVD player – and is one productive emphasis the general musical underground can call over the majors: as the copyright-paranoid attempt to create CDs unplayable on anything but the most conventional of CD players, the increasing utilisation of multimedia technology in the underground sells out the brutal, inartistic and greedy tactics of the corporate cowboys. That said, the videos are worth a serious analysis unto their own, taking into consideration their composition, transaction with the sound (representative, narratological, schematological), and relative obscurity in the world of electronic music. (Unfortunately I do not have the time to do so here, and so it will have to wait).

By tobias c. van Veen

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