ALBUM: Elekatota: The Other Side of the Tracks
LABEL: Tympanik Audio
REVIEWER: Matthew J.
Producer Frank Mokros, who also creates harsh power noise under the name Synth-Etik, returns with a second album of dark-edged experimental rhythms and sequences from his Totakeke project. Though Totakeke is decidedly more melodic than Mokros' other project, this release is by no means easy listening; it simply uses ambient textures rather than grating feedback as its sonic foundation. "Elekatota One" starts things off with looping drones that recall the guttural chants and horns of Tibetan Buddhist ritual music, then builds into a series of tense beeps and beats. "Pull the Plug" is darkly atmospheric, with mechanical breakbeats interspersed with more symphonic effects like tones and strings, and "Ignorance" starts off muffled but eventually transitions into a chunky industrial rhythm. Though Totakeke is more geared for headphones than clubs, experimental techno influences abound; with its pulsing kick and thick brooding fog, "Millenia" is like The Orb gone evil, the extended "Gift of Nervous Methods" recalls Future Sound of London with its extended ambient passages broken up by cavernous down-tempo rhythms, and "Strangle" even hints at dub influences with its echoing clanks of percussion. As tense as it gets in places, this album is nowhere near as directly confrontational as a Synth-Etik album; "Show Me the Faith" is abstract and mechanical, "Immolate" is eerie but calm, and "Elekatota Two" is actually pleasant and peaceful. Just when things start to seem soft, though, "The Other Side of the Tracks" finishes the album with a blast of spiky analog tones and jarring glitches, as if to remind you that this is still a Frank Mokros album after all, so don't get too settled. Incorporating a range of textures and moods, this is a brilliantly produced album, another classic from an under-appreciated producer who can be brutal at times but always manages to do it with a refined intelligence that makes even his harshest work a pleasure to listen to in its own way.
For more information about this project, visit the Totakeke MySpace page at www.myspace.com/elekatota.
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