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The Buddy System - Transitions

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Artist: The Buddy System

Album: Transitions

Label: Notenuf

Review date: Jan. 15, 2004

Blip, blip, bling, wop wop-wop-wop-wop. Blip, blip, SPRIZZ, bling-wop wop-wop-wop-wop.

“Should” gets my vote for the most weightless, meaningless, useless word in the English language. You did or you didn’t. You do or you don’t. I’ve said it before, and if you keep saying it I’ma have to say it again: Come the fuck off it with the “should”s.

Electronic music should accomplish all sorts of things that weren’t possible two years ago. I mean, technology’s moving so fast, and you can still call it “techno” music, right? I mean, you shouldn’t know WHAT’s gonna happen. Something interesting should happen. Particularly from a record that has the grapes to disorient you. Disorientation is good, right. I mean, that’s been conventional wisdom since before my mother was born. Something always cums from disorientation. Something always happens after you’re too drunk to take notes.

No, it doesn’t. Necessarily. If at all. Sometimes it's worth itself on its own terms (the most you can expect from people, much less record albums), but it ain't held down to shoulds.

Alas for all of us who’ve attended raves expecting the miraculous: Kurt Korthals, a.k.a. the Buddy System, doesn’t fuck around with “should”s his own self. He only does what he came to do, and doesn’t, at any point, promise what he doesn’t intend to provide. Your expectations aren’t his business.

What Korthals provides is a cryptic, extra-staccato variation on that brain-massage computer-funk has given you since the beginning, yay a decade or two ago. Hooks come and go, passing elegantly on through like an alien ringtone or two strangers discussing the news. You can stick ‘em in your head if that’s how you like it. Korthals isn’t going to do it for you, on your behalf.

So it’s disorienting – that’s the idea, right? – particularly when the spaceouts get cooking. The spaceouts arrive in four two-part episodes. A lot of different scenes pass through each spaceout. You wait awhile for them to get cooking. They do get cooking, fizzlin' and sizzlin' for awhile and then piping back down. If you can’t hold your spaceouts – if you manage to quit paying attention (half the battle) but can’t stay on the scene – you’ll forget they’re on. If you wanted some sort of money-shot payoff, you won’t get it anyroute. But if you forget the Buddy System is on, you’ll miss what it can do.

Disorientation. If that’s all you want on this particular weeknight, Korthals is there for you. And if you expect any more than that from a techno record and seek the company of one that should be crazier, sexier, more passionate – well, you’ll prolly end up wishing you’d spent the evening gleaning some wisdom from this sort of honest disorientation.

By Emerson Dameron

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