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Eight Frozen Modules - Thought Process Disorder

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Artist: Eight Frozen Modules

Album: Thought Process Disorder

Label: Orthlorng Musork

Review date: Jan. 5, 2003

Ice Cold Algorithms

Starting off in the rock-based Furry Things on the Trance Syndicate label and moving on to his present day incarnation as a break beat mechanic, Ken Gibson’s road to his current sound is a lot clearer than imagined. Early on, the transition from rock to electronic was realized through ambient scapes. Adam Wiltzie (half of Stars of the Lid) remixed a track on FT’s 1997 release Frequent Lunacy. Perhaps with a taste for more experimental and less pop, Gibson relocated from L.A. to Austin and started his sojourn into computer-based music. Releasing under Eight Frozen Modules for labels such as City Slang and earlier this year on PHTHALO, this full-length on software programmer, Kit Clayton’s Orthlorng Musork label could not be more appropriate for an artist making his mark with a slice of precision.

Upon initial listen, the similarities between other electronic elite and this release are without error. 8FM spits out gritty effects, chaotic drum patterns and loose cannons of bass like a Warp Records back alley beat-down. The drums oscillate between Plaid-like squelchyness and a seemingly jumbled processing akin to fractured Autechre. The most obvious soulmate is clear from the spread of “vocal, but not” sounds a la Squarepusher.

Upon closer inspection it becomes clear that this is no blended sum of said Warpsters. While many of the samples of hallow drums, electrifying blasts and washes of synth lines are familiar, the organization is what makes this album separate from the pack. The compositions are challenging but inspiring and reflect Gibson’s attention to detail. He bridges the gap between randomized and programmed with enough different kinds of beat patterns (2-step, trip hop, electro, house, drum’n’bass etc…) to confuse virgin ears but titillate a seasoned music lover. No genre tag could encapsulate a single track, let alone the entire album, as 8FM will cover most of them within a few minutes.

“Thought Process Disorder” is one of the most appealing gems featuring fading Nintendo (the spoiler, it’s Mario Brothers) samples from left to right and weaving in warm synth lines between 2-step and doubled-up beats. “Tuba Tricks” is the most Squarepusherian and satisfies the need for melody, chaos and even turntablism cuts. “Fucj Shif” is a nice midtempo number in the spirit of Prefuse 73 with some vibes and faux-harder edged buzzes that do little to take away from the playful overtone. Listening for those who would love to break off a piece of something new.

By Steph Salas

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