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Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

Test Tube MP3s

This is 2005’s final Downstream entry. Seems appropriate to end on something from the test tube netlabel, based out of Portugal. In less than a year and a half, test tube has earned a reputation as a key locale for original, freely downloadable music. Even those test tube releases that are not explicitly electronica, like DOPO‘s Last Blues, to Be Read Someday, the label’s 30th, have an ambient intent. DOPO are reminiscent of John Fahey and Boxhead Ensemble at their most blissfully meandering. Listen on “I Can See the Church Clock from the Window” (MP3) to how the background feedback drone tempts the drummer to cool his heels, or on “Seaweed” (MP3) how woodwind and accordion (the latter bringing to mind Dino Saluzzi’s better work on ECM) merge into one sinuous wave of warmth. The real keeper on this four-track album is “Distance Again Expands” (MP3), five and a half minutes of a solemn riff played against a sonar beat, like some aged Celtic band’s idea of minimal techno. The files are compressed at varying bit rates, none smaller than 470kbps (three times the size of the average netlabel download), so the sound quality is extremely good. Check out DOPO’s Last Blues at monocromatica.com/netlabel.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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