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Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

Vacuum-Derived MP3s

Among the musical highlights of 2003 were the whimsical title characters of Triplets of Belleville, the animated French film. Midway through the movie, the three women, along with a guest, performed a piece of ersatz musique-concrete, the instrumentation of which consisted of a bicycle wheel, crumpled newspaper, a refrigerator grill and, most remarkably, a vacuum cleaner (the film’s score is by Benoit Charest). Now a new trio of acts (Aunderwex, Dk9 and Olga & Fritz) has produced a set of vacuum-derived music, collected as the Mio Star Compact 3000 Electronic EP, the Mio Star being a Swiss make of cleaner. The EP is available for free download from the 20kbps netlabel.

Aunderwex’s “Attack of the Mio Stars” has the industrious pep of Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times, all pneumatic pump and grind. Conversely, the initial impression made by Dk9’s “I Love Miostar” is of the ocean: the track starts with an echoed whir that’s all ear-to-the-seashell; shortly thereafter, though, nature gives way to the mechanized pleasures of syncopation and chug.

Finally, Olga & Fritz’s “Track 1” is the most difficult to characterize, even though it is the only one of the three to use an untreated, unambiguously recognizable vacuum-cleaner sample; it feels less like pop music and more like the sound track of a voiceless scene from a film. In combination with Charest’s Belleville score, the Mio Star EP furthers the notion that electronica adores a vacuum cleaner. (The 20kbps netlabel’s website is at 20kbps.sofapause.ch; a zip file containing all three tracks in MP3 format is here.)

By Marc Weidenbaum

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