The Spacewurm : See You Later Oscillator

The Spacewurm
See You Later Oscillator
Gravity

 

THE SPACEWURM KEEPS it real. Not like N.W.A., but more in a reality television kind of way. Just without the TV. The Spacewurm's fourth album, See You Later Oscillator, invades privacy and probes minds by blending discomforting cell-phone conversations with trippy bleep-and-bloop music. Sample dialogue: "I don't care how you rationalize it in your fucking mind, Michael," a woman rants on the song "Guilt and Money and Money and Love." "You gave me $445! That is what you gave me, bottom line. Anything else you gave me was out of guilt. That is how you worked your life. Out of guilt and money." Next she waxes philosophical. "Money is love and love is guilt and you and money--all three are intertwined!"

In the mid-Nineties, an electronica-inclined Euro-doofus named Robin Rimbaud (a.k.a. Scanner) began recording people's cell-phone conversations, masking the voices, and wedding them to subtle beats and slithering soundscapes. But what sets See You Later Oscillator apart from Rimbaud's work is how immediate and human the music sounds, which is mostly the result of how uncomfortably familiar these conversations feel. Rimbaud's work always seemed a bit detached, but the Spacewurm thrusts the listener into the most intimate of conversational spaces that have been transmitted to the world via cell phone. In the form of microwaves, these discussions have penetrated the Spacewurm's own living space, which is outfitted with a cell-phone scanner. The dialogues have then been woven into unsettling musical soundscapes that are mostly formless--drifting, ebbing, and flowing the way everyday talk veers on its unpredictable paths between people. Hence, the spoken words and electronic scribbles work seamlessly together to create an Orwellian audio odyssey for the year 2001.

By the end of the album, one is left with the creepy sensation of feeling like a stalker--an aural peeping Tom who has come between the breathing space of two people. But the screwed-up thing is that, in this Real World that we live in, those caught within the Spacewurm's unauthorized editing clutches might very well have agreed to have their lives reworked and distributed on compact disc if it might add three and a half minutes to their potential fifteen minutes of fame. Would Michael be more upset to hear himself described as a greedy guilt junkie--or to find out he hasn't collected any royalties?

 
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