LABEL: 23db Records
REVIEWER: Matthew J.
This duo's intensely eclectic and sometimes jarring blend of synthpop, hip-hop and video game music would make for a difficult listen if it weren't so abundantly fun. Project creators Claes Johansen and Timothy Nilsson have adopted the stage names Kurasu and Scien Burikusu!!!, and with these alternate identities comes a bizarre melange of retro-futuristic imagery, like The Matrix meets Godzilla by way of Grandmaster Flash. Add elements of glitch and ambient, and things just get all the crazier. While tracks like "Sci-Fi Epikusu" and "Sinesaw" bring an overall science fiction hip-hop vibe to things with their spaced out tinkling synths, electro beats, and rhymes like "Vapor phase / Not even a trace / We burn the bass," it's "Year 2080" that best highlights the pair's eclecticism. With blips and pulsing beats backing more futuristic rapping, the verses suddenly give way to a deep-voiced funk croon that recalls Die Warzau as the lyrics shift from Terminator-style robot apocalypse to stream-of-consciousness musings on broadband Internet connections and the lowly critical status of '80s electronic music. It's a sharp enough juxtaposition in terms of both sound and idea to make you wonder how much effort went in to editing these tracks after they were laid down, but from tracks like the subtly guitar-backed synthpop of "Suffocate" to the reggae/glitch crossover of "Negative Zero Is Forbidden," it becomes clear that Kurasu and Scien take the utmost delight in screwing with sonic expectations. Even more playful are this album's bonus tracks, which include "War Stories," an ode to classic video games complete with Nintendo samples, as well as "Lex Bollmora" and "Electrocute," two instrumental tracks that highlight the Vember Audio Surge software synthesizer Johansen created. There are also a couple of excellent bonus remixes, with Assemblage 23's Tom Shear (who also released the album on his own 23db Records) providing an atmospheric breakbeat-and-whirring mix of "Sci-Fi Epikusu" and Haujobb's Daniel Myer offering a dark ambient take on "Year 2080." While fans of simple-minded synthpop might find the density of Burikusu!!!'s work overwhelming, electronic music enthusiasts who like a sense of playfulness along with their experimentation will be hard-pressed to resist Kurasu and Scien's funky transhumanist onslaught.
Check out Kurasu and Scien online at www.burikusu.net .
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