One might have expected this team-up between electronic prankster Mike "Mu-ziq" Paradinas and breakbeat convert Jochem "Speedy J" Paap to end in abject failure. After all, a similar collaboration between Paradinas and like-minded experimentalist Richard D. James produced little inspiration but plenty of tiresome pastiche. Instead of studio sniggering or art-school excess, though, "Slag Boom Van Loon" offers us 11 compositions that consistently balance playfulness with gravity, innovation with structure. Serene washes of melody float atop fidgety, yet subdued rhythms. Ambient, world music and musique concrete exert equal influences, yet the results sound undeniably singular. It's quite an old trick to let crunchy beats play off pretty synths, but here the keyboards unsettle just as often as the sampled and sliced-up "percussion." On "SPC-CH-PN," a mournful piano loop ambles around a dusky cyber-cafe while a distant horn figure slowly morphs into a human groan. "Butch" translates the irregular breakbeats of post-dancefloor jungle into dinky little Casio and kazoo sounds - cash registers conversing quietly in the night. The pinball-machine funk of "Broccoli," the pastoral acid of "Poppy Seed" and the fractured pomp and circumstance of "Fallen Angels Entering Pandemonium" - all suggest glorious accidents set in motion by a sorcerer's apprentice. Really, they're the work of two accomplished tinkerers whose noisy sides cancelled each other out, leaving only hypnotic reverie.
released October 26, 1998
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