Autophobia, by German electro-dudes Liquid Divine, starts off great. The first three songs are like a mini course in "Synths I Like 101"--big ol' elektro backbeat, lots of bouncy synth layers, shimmery fake-string overlay with the majestic sweep of Lawrence doing Arabia. Raspy singer Guido doesn't fare too well, but he disguises his voice with enough Grandmaster Flash "Scorpio" FX that it doesn't matter too much. If Guido and his producing partner Christian kept up this pace throughout, we'd have a solid genre release tailor made for Saturday night at the Exit club (or, in my case, the Radio Shack--good times!).
Alas, it's not to be. With song #4, "Ghost," we leave the straightforward thumping and enter busy-beat territory, which sounds like the Pet Shop Boyz when they're trying to get fancy, or like "Tom's Diner"--only without the tunes. Kick drums start hitting on offbeats and songs lose their power. Occasionally the drums even drop out so that Guido can whisper about his tears and whatnot. Ug.
Even the song "Cocoon," which starts off fairly bangin', turns boring. Scorpio's back, they regain some momentum--I'm ready to be reeled back in, boyz! But then the cool kickdrum goes away, to be replaced by more boring...DIFFUSE...16th beats. If you have a cool beat, don't mess it up, man! It's like when we moved the old bookcase and we thought about knocking out a shelf so we could put the TV on it, but I couldn't get the shelf out! I tried unscrewing, hammering, prying, everything my Inept Handyman brain could conjure up, but no dice, the shelf stayed attached. It's like after 30 years wood glue just SETS IN for good and there's nothing you can do about it. Well, we finally reasoned, you don't waste sturdy shelves, so we gave up, the TV remains where it remains, and we keep books on the bookcase, calm in the knowledge that no matter how much we load 'er up, the shelf ain't gonna bow. AND THAT'S WHAT CHRISTIAN SHOULD DO WHEN HE STUMBLES ACROSS A GOOD BEAT! Don't let that baby out of your sight! Good rockin' beats are more precious than gold, so why mess with 'em?
Song #8 is about "Comagirl." Feelin' a little comatose myself right now, I gotta say. Oh my word, a woman is singing! Too bad they didn't give her a tune. No no, I kid; there IS, technically, a tune. Though of course, if you charted the silhouette of a goldfish on staff paper, you'd have a tune too, and one that was more of a conversation starter at parties. I mean, yeah, you can talk about aleatoric composition technique for all of, what?, two minutes, but that conversation will at least lead into other things, like your useless composition major, and the stodginess of the academy, and before you know it you're both drunk out on the porch discussing the proto-Marxist rhetorics of Beethoven's Ninth and feeling absolutely WONDERFUL. "Comagirl," on the other hand, would not start any such conversations. You'd be all like, "Why do they always play this crap electro when I come here?," and the other person's all like, "I know, right?," and then you look around for something to eat. It's sad, really, because your relationship could've amounted to so much more.
An informative man introduces song #11, "Redshift": Autophobia is the fear of being alone. That's good to know in case you're ever on Cash Cab. Now HERE'S a beat! BIG thumping house, bouncing, this is what I needed. At this late stage it's not enough for me to recommend the CD or anything, but the Liquid Divines should at least know that THIS BEAT IS GOOD. "Redshift"! Do more songs like "Redshift"! Do a suite of variations on "Redshift," that'd kill an hour or so. Arpeggios, oh my lord, arpeggios! And then... the beat drops out. Now wait a minute, Christian, you remember what we talked about? When you find a good beat, you don't just make it go away for an operatic soprano and a dude talking about autophobia. Especially when he's repeating info he gave us at the beginning of the song! Time out for Christian.
Song #12 is called "One Day of May in '99." I actually remember that time! I was sprawled on a college lawn reading Goedel Escher Bach, when my composition teacher passed by and told me I should be working on my composition portfolio, even though we both knew I wasn't going to grad school. I still don't have a composition portfolio. I also don't remember that much about Goedel Escher Bach, so I guess it was a lose-lose, but I do remember how excited I was about that book while reading it, how I wanted THIS to be my life, even though I couldn't have told you what THIS was, exactly. Something about recursive loops creating intelligence. I bet Guido and Christian have read it, or are at least more conversant with AI than I. (This song sux, by the way.) (Slow.) You need books like that, to spur you on, even if your life has nothing to do with the subject matter of the book. Who knows what your life "has to do with"? Everything, nothing, certain things, that's the eternal ever-shifting mystery. Good song title at least.
The official consensus: NO, NOT WORTH IT. Though as I've pointed out, Youtube might give you something tasty: