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Arpanet - Wireless Internet

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Artist: Arpanet

Album: Wireless Internet

Label: Record Makers

Review date: Jun. 14, 2002

Wireless Internet is the first release by the Detroit group Arpanet. The music is fairly predictable, and never remotely strays from the Detroit electro formula. The creepy outdated science-fiction sounds and great 808-fueled dance beats are all done just right. If you’re one of those people who could never tire of Dopplereffekt, then Wireless Internet demands at least one listen. If you’re looking for “Electroclash,” then you’ve got the wrong address; you might want to wait for the next Fischerspooner remix of Miss Kittin covering Duran Duran or something.

Thematically the album refers to a Japanese telecommunication concern called NTT DoCoMo (http://www.nttdocomo.com). According to an electronic voice on the first track of the album, this company is leading a revolution towards universal wirelessness through “micro-electronic handheld technology.” “This is an interesting concept to seriously consider,” the voice tells us, and goes on to explain precisely why. So futuristic! But the background music to this diatribe, an analog synthesizer arpeggiating stealthily, still sounds like a 1950’s conception of the future. Like always with good Detroit electro, the past and the future merge, and the music illuminates what’s intriguing about each.

The songs are about evenly divided between cold sonic warnings and gothic dance cuts. Tracks like “P2101V”and “Wireless Internet” have no drums, bringing to mind late-70’s melancholy soundtrack music. “Wireframe Images” is the most fun song, following more the strangely danceable formula of Dopplereffekt: the beat throbs like disco, but in a much stiffer and Kraftwerk-esque way. “Devoid of Wires” even retains the Dopplereffekt trademark vocal style, call-and-responding with little melodies. However, Arpanet are not being outwardly humorous or even particularly bizarre here, and that might be disappointing to some people. The clearest problem with the album is the fact that it recycles two tracks. The background music to “The Analyst” is used again without significant alteration on “P2101V,” and “NTT DoCoMo” is a version of “i-Mode” with a few robot vocals added. So there are seven completely unique tracks here rather than nine as suggested by the track listing. This isn’t in itself a catastrophe considering that 12”s often have just one or two songs, but Wireless Internet is a proper full-length with a coherent musical idea. Listened to as a whole, the recycling of songs becomes tedious.

But independent of that problem, the music is great. As far as solid neo-electro goes I can’t really complain. Wireless Internet has the wide-eyed spirit of being five years old in 1957 and fearing technologies that no one really understands.

By Ben Tausig

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