Team-Up Marvel

Rest assured that if an album lists the following names with the promise of new music, then it’s worth picking up blind: Luke Vibert, Squarepusher, Cyclob, Mike Flowers, Stereolab. Now, mind you, the 14 tracks on Constant Friction (Collaborations 2) (Lo/hub100, 2000) feature almost twice as many musicians, because it’s a team-up, kind of like the old Marvel comics series, in which two brand name heroes share the stage for a limited engagement. Vibert is heard with slide guitarist BJ Cole, as the two of them were on their own recent full-length collaboration (Stop the Panic), but most of these pairings are unique. Squarepusher is a single-minded solo electronic artist, though he did record a duet with Aphex Twin for last year’s Warp Records anniversary album; here, he’s heard with Lo regular Richard Thomas on a downbeat track with loping bass and stuttering scatting. Thomas is heard elsewhere with noise-making jump-cutter Kid 606. Stereolab closes out the album, working with Hairy Butter. The band Rothko is heard with both Four Tet and the Monsoon Bassoon, on separate cuts. On both pairings, you hear analog and digital fumble cumbersomely for mutual elbowroom. It’s an awkward dance, but a valuable experiment, as is much of this collection.

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