CD Review

Radio Dystopia – “Beyond the Radar”

By Marcus Pan

When this 8 track self-burned, handwritten track list CD arrived I felt for sure it would be one of the easiest reviews to write. Because I would be given so much fodder to rip into and shred that all I'd have to do is let it flow. Unfortunately...for me anyway...Kevin Bottorff of Radio Dystopia actually has a great handle on music, experiments sublimely with it and, basement or not, Beyond the Radar is quite good. Which means I really have to write a review of it as opposed to make fun of it.

Radio Dystopia is an experimental electronic project, concentrating on minimalism. The sounds provided are typically brighter than your average dark ambient – it's more like happy and illucid ambient, really. You'll find some darker elements, sure, it's hard to create experimental anything without something brooding creeping in. The deep resonant cello (I think) of The Planet Lux-Phan Lounge, for example, a track that brings forth imagery of a more dismal, strange and laid back jazz fusion version of Star Wars' cantina.

March of the Drones clocks in at over seven minutes and starts this electronic exposition. The make-up is light, tappy and while it can be at times complicated it retains a minimal suave. On the same track he mixes up different rhythms with percussion to close it, coalescing brush strokes and tom hits to bring it to an end. Into the Cosmos has a similar brush-stroke-cymbal sound that will keep the track from losing its way, like a beacon leading forward. Spoken word punctuates the minimal musical soundscape with verbiage about...well I'm not sure really. But the voice is soothing somehow and keeps the track from becoming as frightening and dark as it could have been otherwise.

A New Wonder is strange but fluffy. The following Approaching the Now sounds strangely familiar to its predessor but adds a very fast tapping rhythm to the mix. Manick lives up to its name as the loudest cacophony of the Beyond the Radar disc.

I'm rather impressed, really, and many of you know just how hard it is to do that. While I wouldn't suggest handwriting a jacket and sending it to me sans press kit, if you're just hanging in your basement and it's all you have then go ahead. Take the risk. I only suggest you have half as much panache at creation as Kevin does, because if you don't you're going to be told...brutally. Radio Dystopia, on the other hand, is this month's proverbial diamond in the rough.

Contact Information:
Radio Dystopia
Post: 701 NW Parkview Dr., Bartlesville, OK, 74003, USA