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Indie Techno: Grouse, Kilowatts, Sonic Radiation

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GROUSE: We Want to Be Loved (CD on Babyfly Records)

This release from 2005 offers 55 minutes of dreamy techno.

Grouse is Ronan Carroll (the guitarist from Tempest), with assistance from Aoife Hand, Makoto Miyashita and Laura Winter on vocals, Brian Switzer on trumpet and Mark Skowronek on bass.

Sultry melodies are crafted with sinuous electronics and sneakily complex percussion. Smooth keyboards are employed to give certain passages an endearing quality, while guitar and other instruments flesh out the sound with delicate affluence. The guitar's serene growl adds a remarkable undercurrent, while at other points an acoustic strumming sends pulsating stars flittering through a lover's eyes.

A dreamy quality is dominant here, stepping down the frenetic velocity and producing a pleasantly mesmerizing flavor. Sedate keyboards wander through some tunes, injecting a softly romantic edge. Rumbling basslines ooze with similar effect, generating a melancholic lilt.

Percussion is applied in nimble and relaxed modes. Both applications flourish with intricate rhythms, drawing in the listener with their inviting tempos. The presence of alternate beat tracks lends a lush complexity to the music.

Vocals make periodic appearances throughout this CD, rarely intruding on the overall ethereal quality maintained by the music.

Not to belabor the point, but this release is rewardingly dreamy. Possessing more substance than ambience, but displaying a higher pep quotient than most contemporary electronics, it lulls without sedation and quietly stimulates.

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KILOWATTS: Routes (CD on Artificial Music Machine)

This release from 2006 features 68 minutes of crisply satisfying techno.

Here we have a CD that combines ilbient and techno, doling out a tasty dose of chittering diodes and slithering electronics and intricate rhythms of gratifying ecstasy. Mixed in with this fleet-footed tuneage are some heavenly airs to give the music perspective.

Whiny sounds crawl in-between crunching e-perc immersed in a seething nest of agitated electronic beats and slips. A wild assortment of utterly synthetic noises conspire to produce swaying tuneage of energized disposition. The rhythms are fast and unpredictable. The melodies are determined, but frequently sidetracked by auxiliary augmentation; these distractions, though, only serve to increase the engaging quality of the music. Each new stage erupts with a fresh measure of super-charged beats, driving a relentless blur deep into the listener's head.

Crowded in with all these unexpected turns are some thoroughly satisfying compositions. Gregarious melodies are cleverly buried in hordes of spiny thorns and razor-edged beats.

This music circles at high altitudes, spinning fast and generating edgy loops that tantalize with hints of Autechre while drifting on Orbesque breezes.

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SONIC RADIATION The 121 Project (CD on I Unknown Records)

This release from 2005 offers 42 minutes of steadfast tuneage.

Lush electronics spill forth laced with surging bass-tones, establishing a moody foundation. Effects are scattered throughout, lending diversions and punctuating the flow with novel instances. Squealing diodes surface and recede, further embellishing the mix. Cyclic loops are established, then auxiliary cycles are added as each tune progresses. Variations are subtle, relying more on the introduction of new loops that evolving existing threads. The result is dependable and somewhat pleasant.

Snappy e-perc invigorates the sonic mesh with steadfast rhythms that utilize a variety of impact timbres. The tempos provide durable locomotion for the chugging electronics. Again, variation plays a parse role here, relying on hypnotic accretion.

Voice samples from sci-fi movies are infrequent, appearing briefly to set the stage for certain tunes.

While the compositions are generally unilateral, the songs exhibit strong roots in early techno wherein beats and bass-tones are established and allowed to run rampant while electronic trappings are tweaked on the fly and phased in and out by a mixmaster. The overall appeal of this music is very similar to early rave tuneage in which things set a stable trance milieu and rarely stray from that central mood.

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