With this collection of eight original tracks and four guest remixes, Seattle-based artist Ben Arp takes his C/A/T project even farther into club-friendly rhythmic noise territory. The first version of title track “The Rogue Pair” is particularly heavy and pounding, with some soft, vaguely science fiction-inspired keyboards making for an interesting contrast. “Liability” is another highlight, managing to use some very industrial-sounding percussion to create an unexpectedly funky track, while “A Line In The Sand” is relentlessly speedy and grating. Thematically, Arp is still fascinated by U.S. political conspiracies, as evidenced by “Enemy Within,” but “Enhancer” wins the prize for most amusing use of samples. This isn’t Arp’s first time using humor to make his point, but generally his humor is more topical and intellectual in a Jon Stewart meets Robert Anton Wilson sort of way. While “Enhancer” probably makes a point about artificial standards of beauty and the role of the media in creating fetishes, it’s also funny on a Beavis and Butthead “That guy just said ‘titmouse’” level, which is a refreshing break from Arp’s usual sardonic political commentary. The remixes on this disc are a nice added bonus. Manufactura’s Karloz M. does “The Rogue Pair” in the hard power noise style that’s made him such a rising star in the American scene, while Caustic’s “Battle for New Orleans Mix” of “Enemy Within” beefs up the samples and the funk. Surprisingly, both Terrorfakt and Endif’s mixes of “Seditious Minds” are more subdued than the original; the Terrorfakt version keeps things full of distorted bass but ratchets down the tempo, while Endif gives the song a more abstract electro feel. Though this is technically a bridge between C/A/T’s debut full-length album and a new CD to be released in 2006, with almost an hour of music this is a worthy purchase in its own right; you don’t need to have heard Arp’s previous work to appreciate this. The only complaint with this album is that in making more dance-oriented music, Arp has lost a bit of the eclecticism that made early efforts like the Worldwide Totalitarian Control EP so interesting; The Rogue Pair, in fact, contains only one original down-tempo track, the noisy but weirdly soothing “Severed.” While this disc will undoubtedly take C/A/T to a new level of success on the dance floor, one hopes that the next album will bring back a bit more of the cut-ups and creepily mellow bits that set the project apart from the rest of the rhythmic noise scene in the first place.
Visit C/A/T online at www.crunchpod.com.
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