42. Various Artists – “At Home With the Groovebox”

Reviewing Beck albums reminded me to find this CD and give it a considered spin…

at-home-with-the-groovebox-album-cover-various-artists-becklThis was a little project from the Grand Royal stable back in 1998-9, where they asked various indie luminaries to have a twiddle on a Roland groovebox thingie.

The groovebox is an all-in-one synth and sequencer and drum machine and 8-track recorder.  Think the sort of ingenious music machine Doc Brown from Back to the Future might have conjured up (or those crazy kids from Weird Science), or the source of the soundtrack to Electric Dreams.

So, anyway, the album turns out to be a load of fun, with a mix of instrumental gems and some vocal numbers.  The standout tracks come from Bis, Cibo Matto and PavementSonic Youth offer an extremely esoteric and frankly painful soundscape, while Bonnie Prince Billy delivers a standard haunting (but not overly electronic) warble.  

A lot of the best stuff comes from the instrumentalists, however, who deliver more than simple plinky plonk pieces. I’ve never heard of most of them, but they’re clearly Wizs.

All in all, this is a surprisingly consistent and singular album.  Perhaps issuing all artists with same equipment reduced the risk of jarring contrasts.

File under:Elegant electronica

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