The first time I heard Add N To (X) was while watching an installment of Real Sex on HBO. The HBO Mondo-style sex program featured a cartoon video for their song Metal Fingers in My Body. Imagine a female human and a metal robot doing "da nasty" and you get the picture; imagine Goo-era Sonic Youth covering Herbie Handcock's Rockit and you get the sound. The video was silly, but the low-fi sci-fi synth jamming and funky fusion drumming sent me driving to the music store for a copy of their Avant Hard album. Add N To (X)'s mix of pawnshop synths and techno-sexual lyrics made me an instant fan. Subsequent releases such as Add Insult to Injury and the incredibly sexy video for Plug Me In cemented my admiration for the band.
Since then, Add N To (X) subtracted band member Ann Shenton. This would normally be bad news, however comely Ann wasted no time, forming a new band, and releasing Spray on Sound. Large Number isn't enough of a departure from Add N To (X) for me to shed any tears Ann managed to keep Add N To (X)'s terrific drummer, her arsenal of vintage synthesizers and a penchant for dirty electro-jazz experimentation.
Large Numbers covers a galaxy of musical territory: from "pink" jazz, rock and hip-hop, to funk, ambient and bluegrass. The common element that holds these genres together is Ann's equally diverse array of synthesizer sounds almost like a tour through an intergalactic zoo where each tweet, chirp and whoop is some marvelous new creature.
Spray on Sound commences with the low-fidelity funk jam of The Creaky O.K. The funky flow continues with the spacey synth and spoken word mix of Pink Jazz the vocals creep me out, but the groove is delicious. Most of the songs on Spray on Sound fall into the ambient genre: too pretty to call "noise" and too experimental and distracting to call "chill-out." Hunchback in the Dark is a mellow boat ride across an ocean of sine waves, and Chronosynclasticinfundibulation sounds like the last moments of a space ship about to plunge into a black hole. Spring on Electris is a scuba drive in an alien sea, and Emotional Life of Animals is a spooky midnight walk around a farm the night before the crop circles appeared.
Large Numbers rises to the surface for some pop experimentation as well. The gentle guitar and vocals of Crazy make for a sweetly twisted treat. Lexical Synestesia's mix of acoustic drums, guitar and banjo (yes, banjo!!!) should surprise and delight most listeners. The album's final track, The Earth Has Shrunk in the Wash, is a rockin' electro space jam that should grab the attention of fans of jazz-fusion, stoner rock, as well as ambient electronica.
Spray on Sound mixes well with everything from Praxis, Money Mark, Bis, and Amon Tobin, to Stereolab, Air, Hawkwind, and Funkadelic. If you need to mix between a Ninja Tune and an Emperor Norton release, you need this CD. If you ever wondered what jazz should sound like in the 21st century, listen to Spray on Sound.
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