Radium88’s Artificial Life was recently delivered. Opening up the CD containing packet, I read their description; it boasted “the lo-tek sound of tomorrow and the kitschmongers of doom”. Aimless insane energy progressed as the words continued. Realizing that a little psychosis was needed in an otherwise dull day, Artificial Life was spun.
Blame England! Radium88 is the hybrid of the Cocteau Twins, random yet seamlessly sequenced spaced-out electronica (within song) and Einar Orn. The eclectic mix of celestial sonic steam, anarchic structures and unique arrangements promote an engaging ambience.
Invitingly melancholic, a gaping odyssey formed by programming with Jema’s ethereal vocals is transmitted with the initial two tracks. Hooks are spare, but unnecessary due to dense and ever-present melody. Diversification begins with “Watch the Skies”. Tim Thwaites performs his foil with his cheese-filled and odd rap. Jema plays along and each harmonize during the chorus.Each song thereafter, focused on “mixing it up” to further titillate the listener.
Even more impressive tracks on Artificial Life are “Phat Wah”, “Disenchanted” and “White Noise”. “Phat Wah” is a twin brother to “Watch The Skies”. Spasmodic vocals, superb jittery lyrics and its genre mocking twists leaps over its above-written relative. J. Edgar Hoover provided self-mocking assistance, while Jema chanted intermittently regarding disenchantment (in reference to J. Edgar musings) supported with a consistent drippy dub track. Inventive and jaded irony were clashed as “White Noise” effectively exercised of a witty protest. Using an extraordinarily appropriate sample (and splicing) of a white supremacist’s blathering regarding his views on parenting and “Negro music”, sparring hip-hop pulsations stimulated a signature Radium88 underlay.
ApeQuake’s only suggestion is to propose a resequencing of the Artificial Life. After several listens, they develop pleasurably. However, some new listeners may lack the patience to swim through the filler material which build toward the increasingly stronger pieces.
Don’t let that relatively minor jab deflect your interests in Radium88. Their charm, multi-layered production and attention to artful songcraft are altogether a flourishing experiment.