The best intergalactic musical journey any of us had as children was probably Disneyworld’s Captain EO. If that doesn’t ring any bells, picture this scene … Michael Jackson before his wacko days, furry space creatures, moonwalking aboard space cruisers, all in the tremendous psuedo-reality of 3D. Okay, I will desist, but post-Star Tours, it was a great wind-down.
Now that Jacko is no longer fit to serve as entertainer for young kiddies because of his, well … entertaining young kiddies, Disney needs a new face to update the void in its space-tacular 3D line-up. I nominate Super_Collider: just listen to Raw Digits and let beautiful images fill your head.
Opener “Messagesacomin” is the sound of an otherworldly elastic dance floor, stretching and confounding space-time. A sci-fi feel, but less Max Rebo Band and more a robo-funk Prince promising things about 1999, if you get my angle. The sonic minutia is astounding, similar to the last few Autechre records as a bar-by-bar evolving beast. It conjures up images of a giant swirling android floating among the wrecked and twisted debris of an urban dystopia. Gears a-whir, “Messagesacomin” picks among the surrounding trash, dull and shiny bits alike, while hovering about, processing the pieces, shooting them back at random. The whole thing coalesces into a maddeningly ephemeral rhythm. You want to dance, but to do so properly would only be to flail about and stutter. This is music to have a seizure to.
The cantankerous captain of this R&B-electro-funk mothership is Cristian Vogel, a techno stalwart known for his experimental approach. He has released dozens of twelve-inches and a few full-lengths on labels such as Mille Plateax, Tresor and Novamute over the past ten years. Vogel composes here from a palette of throbbing bass thumps and swirling synths; a fair amount of robo-clicks and jolts round things out.
However notable the music is, where Super_Collider stands out is in the use of vocals. Other artists who incorporate vocals into electronic music tend to stay within the pop format (Dntel, Schneider TM, or a score of others), Super_Collider draws inspiration for its vocals from a demented approach to Little Richard. Jamie Lidell, who released a solo effort on Warp a few years back and more recently appeared on vocal tracks for Matthew Herbert’s big-band project, contributes the soul of this record. His neo-soul vocal style, however heavily synthesized and glitched-up it may be, grounds the eeriness of the otherworldly production into a very listenable mess.
“Radianations on the Rise” is a perfect example of the adventurous Super_Collider sound. Combining exotic-sounding flute, a stomping minimal beat and Lidell’s best Cookie Monster impersonation, this what I hope to hear on modern R&B radio in the next five years.
On other numbers Lidell’s crooning sounds like a ten-pound bag of brown sugar. This is apparent on “Gravity Rearragin’ ” (featuring keyboards from M. Herbert himself), where he plays the part of an innocent young voice student who wanders from music academy when interest flounders, and begins hanging about in dark corners with an older crowd of rebellious mental producers: “Hey Lidell, throw us down some of that pretty shit … ” You imagine him being abducted by these laptoppers for their own devious ends but then smoothing out their style by virtue of his own chilling vocals.
Collaborations with some of Warp’s elder elite — Prefuse 73 and Squarepusher — are on the horizon. Other indications of future greatness from the lad: maniacal appearances at Sonar and Glasgow’s Triptych festival have featured him prancing about in a scraggly orange sweater replete with bulbous shoulder pads. Another full-length on Warp is due, and Super_Collider has the potential to completely nail down their promising formula into an amazing album whenever they get around to it.
Like much good forward-pulsing electronica, this one will have the uninitiated shaking their rears half-assedly while muttering “c’est tres bizarre, n’est-ce pas?” The cognoscenti will be fumbling its hands greedily, shouting the praises of this absolutely unique synthesis of R&B and electronic music.