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My Computer My Stereo

People often talk of music going round in circles; that those in control often look back to acts they admired when younger and sign clones. Other people just tell them to shut up and accept the fact that musicians will always be influenced by other musicians until the end of time. And so it goes with My Computer My Stereo, a release from Orbitronik that throws more than a passing glance to 'classic' electronic music, yet ends up sounding fresh at the same time.

There have been several bands during the '90s that played with the basic Kraftwerk sound, bending it to their own devices. L.F.O. is probably the most widely known of these, along with Mute's Komputer but to my mind none have blended the mix of '70s retro-sounds and '90s arrangements so well as Orbitronik.

If you're a fan of Kraftwerk, or indeed any electronic music, this is unmissable. The album opens with the sublime, familiar tinny rhythms of Star (2.0); electronic buzzings flit around the mix and electronic voices and various audio cut-ups appear now and again. Nine minutes of semi-retro magic.

The path changes slightly with the more modern 'dub' sounds of Computer mingled with rhythm boxes and grainy vocal snatches. The grating lead line attempts to be both catchy and irritating, a nod to Ladd and Gibbons' tongue-in-cheek ideas of 'electronic musical terrorism' that prevail throughout.

Tracks such as the amusingly-titled Sizably Bent Spiritualist and Anti-neural Suite chill out the proceedings now and again with suitably laid-back beats and soft electronic patterns, the latter reminiscent of Air's Moon Safari. Spreading the Virus of Conversation takes the opposite path—a kind of warped Underworld-style techno outing. Particularly Consortium and Granul Plastique also nod to rave/techno culture.

Despite the fact that Orbitronik is obviously being playful on this release ('Maybe you'll get a decent sample from this one!' quips the disc at one point), it comes up smelling of (electronic) roses. If this is what happens when you keep musicians apart (as is claimed on the inlay) then maybe this is actually pointing to the future of music rather than the past.

Craig Grannell (February, 2000)

Cover artwork