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Alien Invasion MP3

Monotonik, the prolific netlabel, already has two releases in 2004, but let’s rewind to the end of 2003 for a moment, when the musician named Gschmidt closed the year with the December 17 EP Nibiru Coming, consisting of three drama-packed tracks. Each starts in one place and ends in another, from light fantasia to chase-scene hyperactivity (“Head for the Hills”), from sci-fi docudrama spoken word to peppy electronica (“Alientanz”), and from alt-country raga to … well, to alt-country drones, but in between there’s another campy-creepy dialog bit about an alien encounter with the foreboding Planet X (“Roz8”).

Schmidt knows exactly what he, or she, is doing when it comes to these genre shifts. As “Head for the Hills” nears the two-minute mark, it makes the move from one musical flavor (smiley-faced minimalism) to another (pounding synth-prog) not with a lazy crossfade, but with a little musical figure that notes that a transition is underway; what follows, in full Goblin or Tangerine Dream mode, reminds us that space music isn’t always spacey. In “Roz8,” that spoken word bit arrives in time to turn the preceding drones into background music, and while the narrative unfolds the track’s rhythm slowly builds up. On all three parts of Nibiru Coming, these transitions may be the most interesting material. The circular arc of “Roz8,” with its bookends of what sound like Zen guitar, makes it the pick of the batch. (Monotonik is at mono211.com, and the Gschmidt EP is here.)

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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