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The Other People Place - Lifestyles of the Laptop Cafe

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Artist: The Other People Place

Album: Lifestyles of the Laptop Cafe

Label: Warp

Review date: Mar. 31, 2002

Electro for the 23rd century shopping mall crowd: While searching vainly for holiday deals on Hoverboards, customers retain only the vaguest awareness of the familiar 808 drums and analog synths, which combine to create a stimulating soundtrack to their outing. The mall proprietors are pleased.

“Was electro always this sweet-sounding?” a curious young girl asks her mother.

The girl is perceptive. By the Other People Places, Lifestyles of the Laptop Café effectively bridges the gap between funky old-school Detroit techno and the aesthetic of blissful atmospherics. Though it isn’t the first to do so, it is certainly one of the best examples. In terms of percussion and groove, the songs are very similar to the work of groups like Drexciya and Elektroids (membership likely overlaps), while the layering of non-percussive sound is much more reminiscent of Carl Craig or the Orb. While most electro aims to be sparse, the Other People Places fill in the gaps with rich, warm noise.

The warmth of the samples is the perfect complement to the classic depth of the grooves. “Moonlight Rendezvous” and “It’s Your Love” are perfect executions of this principle, striking a balance that defines the record. Then there are tracks like “Lifestyles of the Casual,” which could have been a Dopplereffekt song in another lifetime, and “Sunrays,” which is pretty and cosmic and ends the album on an unexpected note.

Lifestyles of the Laptop Café isn’t a record that will set the kids out in search of new software to achieve heretofore unheard sounds. Its brilliance isn’t in the newness of the equipment used to make it, but rather in the superior quality of the songwriting, the depth of the beats, and the inexplicable desire it generates for purchasing Hoverboards(tm). Regardless of who actually has their hands in the Other People Place, the songs on this record are obviously the work of people who know their genre inside and out and can lay down groovy, nicely layered tracks with admirable consistency. See you in the future.

By Ben Tausig

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