Raw Digits, Rise Robots Rise
Friday 24 May 2002
Don't be put off by the cover: Raw Digits is one of the year's most exciting albums, an innovative fusion of noise and attitude that dispels once and for all the canard about the intrinsic soullessness of electronic music. Jamie Lidell and Cristian Vogel have both released solo albums before – notably the latter's absorbing Rescate 137 – but their work here as Super-collider is greater than the sum of their parts, its blend of semi-abstract, glitch-funk grooves and Lidell's breathless, agitated crooning recalling earlier techno pioneers such as Suicide and Cabaret Voltaire. Tracks such as "Closetails" and "Spillin Visions", with their jittery beats, oildrum bass tones, dark sheets of synth noise and impassioned soul phrasing, have an itchy, noirish quality: a sort of sinister digital ecstasy that's strangely addictive. There's a compelling fascination, too, in the way pieces teeter on the cusp of randomness but somehow slip into dark, infectious forms, like hibernating beasts grappling their way back to consciousness: "Gravity Rearrangin", for instance, opens with ominous bells and an assemblage of abstract synth noises, before oozing imperceptibly into an irresistible electro-funk-soul groove. Elsewhere, "Soily Soul" is the electro equivalent of Dr John's voodoo classic Gris Gris, a hypnotic, swampy dub-soul exercise glimpsed through a roiling fug of dope smoke, warmly atmospheric despite being constructed from electronic noise. I've no clear idea of what Lidell's on about for most of the time, but it hardly matters – it's the manner of his delivery, and the way his voice inhabits its sonic territory, that's most important here. Highly recommended.
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