Lithops - Scrypt
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Lithops
Scrypt

Jan St. Werner is one half of the group Mouse On Mars, although after listening to Scrypt, you'd probably never guess that. Although ocassional moments burst through that sound like the somewhat effervescent group that he spends his other time in, this 11 track release is largely an exercise in deconstruction. Although I can't be sure of his technique, it almost sounds as if Werner composed entire songs (or at least very near) and then ran them through a digital blender, spitting things out the other side that would make many listeners wonder if something was malfunctioning with their CD player.

The opening track of "Generator" is actually so extreme that it sounds like Werner might have at one time had a rock song on his hands. Percussive elements flounder and wobble through the digital morass while broken melodies swirl and spin and struggle to break free from the dunking that he gives them. It's all a big kaleidoscope (or collide-o-scope) of sonics, with splattered drums and wails of digitally crunched sound that gives way to a delicate middle section before again laying waste for the second half.

Things calm down a bit on "Self-Stencil," a relatively ambient track that layers dense washes of sound into a slightly quivering haze while "Thrash Application" again brings stuttering punk-rock riffs into the mix over a bed of noise and glitchery. For sheer unique sound-sources, "Graind" wins hands down, as both odd percussion and woodwinds are turned into a ping-ponging soundscape of kitchen-sink proportions. Despite a couple more odd hard-rock smashups (like "T O"), the second part of the album actually brings recognizable rhythms into the picture and things sound almost normal for awhile.

"Play Through" stutters and skips along with a seizure-like beat, sounding like a bastard-child Mouse On Mars track if you squint your ears while "Attached" spits out lo-fi clinks and clanks while sounding almost dancy at moments. Just when you think that things are going to calm down ("Shift In Structure" is an elegant track comprised of horns and woodwinds), the album closes with the chopped-up "Arcart," a majestic piece that sounds like it was pulled from the Ben Hur soundtrack before being tossed into the digital cuisinart. If you're a fan of all that can be done to take apart sound and put it back together, you'll find things to enjoy here. Personally, though, I'll wait for the next Mouse On Mars and wonder what inspired this hit-or-miss release.

rating: 6.2510
Aaron Coleman 2004-02-15 00:00:00