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Holzkopf Covers Soft Cell, Breaks Sound Barrier (MP3s)

The group Soft Cell is best remembered for its languorous, metronomic pop, a precursor not only to minimal techno, but more broadly to the giddily presumptuous nonchalance that infuses much of the Internet’s amateur musicianship. There was always something in the musical rudimentaries of Soft Cell songs that suggested a flouting of traditional pop categories of quality — like, say, instrumental facility. Holzkopf opens its Credit Card Ache, a short album of hard noise, with a cover (MP3) of Soft Cell’s “Memorabilia.” The new rendition’s saw-tooth beats and static-heavy atmosphere bury the original’s lyrics — and so, even if you can’t quite make them out, someone presumably isn’t just singing, but also took to heart, its closing lines: “Go turn the beat around, got to hear percussion, turn it upside down.” Turning things upside down is Holzkopf’s modus operandi. Just check out “OK Times,” a broiling of beats if ever there were one (MP3); the song turns the beat around by showing, as did Alec Empire and so many other early chaos-friendly industrialists, that computerized rhythm and randomness aren’t incompatible — or, more to the point, that their seeming incompatibilities are the very source of the magic that occurs when they are combined.

[audio:http://www.archive.org/download/pan038/pan038-holzkopf-3-memorabilia.mp3|titles=”Memorabilia”|artists=Holzkopf (covering Soft Cell)] [audio:http://www.archive.org/download/pan038/pan038-holzkopf-4-ok_times.mp3|titles=”OK Times”|artists=Holzkopf]

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By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • about

  • 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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