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Techno: Techno Squirrels, Thorsten

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TECHNO SQUIRRELS: Plastic Makes It Possible (CD on Rave Police Records)

This CD from 2007 offers 59 minutes of accessible tuneage.

Techno Squirrels is: Lisa Eriksson (on vocals, drums, guitar and bass), and Ryan Harlin (on percussion, piano, strings and vocals), with additional guitar by Mikael Eriksson.

This stuff is actually electro-pop with no nostalgic intentions. Modern tuneage with a strong predilection for electronic embellishments. Sinuous percussion, snaky guitar, sturdy basslines, and Eriksson's angelic vocals.

The electronics are both keyboard driven and effects generated by rogue diodes. Slippery riffs glide on ice, punctuated by crystalline notes whose pulsations shimmer with luster. Deep tones are applied to achieve dramatic emphasis.

The rhythms are snappy and engaging, but relatively subdued. Hardly understated, but definitely not dictatorial. They contribute instead of dominate, enhancing rather than drowning the tunes with overbearing thunder.

While guitar and bass are present, their presence is often immersed in the mix. Strings play a more prominent role in some songs, lending an airy cerebral disposition.

Eriksson's voice possesses a heavenly quality that is sweetly mature. No pointless candification here. Her range embodies capable emotion while leaving the lyrics clear of sappiness or maudlin introspection. The intent of her messages is entertainment, not soul-searching.

These compositions stem from earnest observations of modern life, mainly dealing with the personal realm rather than social statements. The music is solid and appealing, providing tasty distractions for dance sensibilities.

Also featured on this CD are remixes by Sean McGhee and Carmen Rizzo vs. Kris Thomas.

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TECHNO SQUIRRELS: Love Comes First (CD EP on Rave Police Records)

This release from 2007 features 37 minutes of remixes of the title track.

What you get: the original, untampered version starts off this EP, giving you an idea of the source material; then you get a series of remixes by Carmen Rizzo vs. Kris Thomas (the same piece that's a bonus track on the album), DJ Denise, Nebulae, James Bernard, and Johan Afterglow.

The source track is a bewitching tune, expressing heartfelt affection with pattering e-perc and delicate keyboards. Romantic piano and elusive strings evoke an alluring sincerity. Eriksson's aerial vocals float with carefree undulations, captivating and sensuous.

Generally, the remixes introduce a bevy of electrified percussives and buzzing treatments to the template. Variations flourish, exploring melodic and rhythmic diversity. Some of the takes apply slushy romanticism, while others inject demonstrative density to the tune's airy mien. A dose of growling bass pulsations shift the song to the dancefloor, peppering the flow with piercing electronic effects and swishing sweeps. One version allows glitchy computerization to run rampant. The mixologists escalate the vocals with blurry echoes, lifting the crooning into cloudy skies where their magnitude becomes quite expansive.

A delightful collection of variations on an endearing gem.

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THORSTEN: Infiltrator (A Musicnovel) (CD on Alternate Words)

This CD from 2007 features 54 minutes of dense techno music.

Thorston Becker wields a host of machinery dedicated to urgent tunes that bristle with savage electronics and strident e-perc.

Surging riffs bask in technological enhancements. Chittering effects dog a nucleus of industrial keyboards that belt out dark chords and ominous sweeps. Nimble patterns scamper across cybernetic layers of sonic thorns. There are times when things strive for an airier demeanor, but the result is summarily bullied by rising brutish force.

Synthetic percussion abounds, describing stalker rhythms laced with robotic intentions. There's a strong hunt vibe going on, with the listener cast as the pursued. The chase is often relentless, exhausting yet satisfying. Metallics coexist with basic beats, enhancing the futuristic realm in which the novel takes place. Some tracks comprise dazzling percussive pinnacles, with monstrous beats conspiring to achieve head-spinning rhythmic extravaganzas.

The music is dense and ponderous in a hyperactive manner. This vitality can be rewarding if it doesn't overwhelm the listener.

If anything, this music is reminiscent of early techno, back when the tunes were more than simplistic melodies propelled by vigorous tempos. These compositions utilize a nostalgic freshness that imbues the tunes with hypnotic life while constantly involving divergent variations.

Remember: this is supposed to be a narrative. Although the CD lacks any lyrical content, the full tale can be found on Becker's website. There is revealed the details of the spy thriller in a stark world of hard technology so expertly evoked by the music's insistent melodies.

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