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Caro - The Return of Caro

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Artist: Caro

Album: The Return of Caro

Label: Orac

Review date: Jul. 10, 2005

The Orac label has quietly transformed Seattle into a most unlikely outpost for minimal techno. The first Caro album, The Return of Caro, is the debut full-length from label head Randy Jones; one assumes that’s him astride a horse on the hilarious, faintly preposterous front cover. The cover’s wintry landscapes and Albers-like squares of shading are obfuscatory at first, but they do shape your perception of the record. While it is not cold or unwelcoming, The Return of Caro inhabits its own world.

That’s not a bad thing: minimal techno could do with a few more idiosyncratic records. “Sea of Hands” is shaded in aqua-green tints: between the waterlogged effects that dot the track and the oozing electronics that squirt throughout, “Sea of Hands” positively squelches. “My Little Pony” lays a low, insidious bass-line underneath an anthropomorphic lyric whose delivery is coated in layers of odd, queasy vocoder. The starkness of a production like “Pony” is offset by tiny interjections, like the miniaturised organ vamp that Jones fires into the song’s slipstream. This is one of Jones’ trademarks: you can hear it in the opening “Ah, Ah, Ah,” as a glinting piano chime splits apart the randomised glass-tone “melodies” that form the basis of the track. “We Can Build It” sounds like the follow-up to Isolée’s Rest that Rajko Muller never managed, thanks largely to the sputtering oddness of the burnished electro-redux stabs. That’s one of the few times The Return of Caro directly evokes anyone else’s music; it's mostly too damn slippery. They must feel a bit out-of-place up there in Seattle.

By Jon Dale

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