The Exposures make music for German TV programs. Not in any metaphorical sense, mind you — it’s their occupation. The trio was hired by a German broadcaster to act in short films in the late 1970s, but soon after they began to record music for that station, ghostwriting background music for nearly twenty years. Scott Herren (a.k.a. Prefuse 73) caught wind of their work and started tracking down as much of it as he could get his hands on. Their subdued electronic compositions provide a fitting soundtrack to any late-night endeavor, proving yet again that even if you don’t count the profanity and nudity, European TV beats the hell out of anything you’ll see on American networks.
Lost Recordings compiles material that scored everything from an ethnologic study of Hawaii to a weekly sports show. Their style echoes the warm vinyl crackles of Herren’s Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives (2001), and they gently build their tracks with samples and mellow, jazzy keyboards. Few of the songs here push with any immediacy, something that should have been explained to the people at Volkswagen, who hired the band to play at the production hall in Wolfsburg in the hopes it would increase production. (It didn’t, but the recording of “A Machine Under Influence,” included on the record, demonstrates their valiant effort.)
Most of these recordings were designed to fill the background of some random TV broadcast, which means they weren’t intended to stick out. To the Exposures’ credit, they were still able to infuse some creativity into the pieces — such as “Collage of Digital Passion,” a mishmash of amorous R&B samples produced for a show exploring sexuality. But sometimes the pieces drone on a little too much. Regardless, these are recordings whose importance transcends their context, and the Exposures’ willingness to take their job more seriously than was likely necessary is what makes them artists rather than just employees.