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  Whole Numbers Play the Basics  
  Casino vs. Japan  
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First up i gotta ask: what the heck is the deal with this guy's titles? "Casino vs. Japan"? What -- is Vegas thinking of going to war with the Japanese? And "Whole Numbers Play the Basics"? Sure, the words are in English, but i cannot figure out what they mean when combined that way....

Oh well.

Casino vs. Japan is a Milwaukee based artist in the "Boards of Canada" school of electronica. This is an album of warm ambient keyboard washes and low drones. There are funky beats, all of which are slightly distorted. If you like Boards of Canada, Miles Tilmann, Ulrich Schnauss, or the like, then this is for you.

Now, i love this kind of stuff. For me, electronica is at it's best, it's most human, when it the keyboard drones are low, the beats are sort of disintigrating, and the groove is mid-paced. I think that this album is better than Geogaddi, but not as good as Music Has the Right to Children. Make sense?

For the most part, this music is low impact mental gymnastics: its there in the background, and your head bops to it, your toe taps, but for the most part it doesn't really intrude on your consciousness. You can ignore it if you want to, and i know that is a bummer for a lot of people.

There are a few tracks on this disc that make it stand out. The first is Aquarium, which starts off with a head bopping beat which is joined by organ-y washes as the song slowly swells to a climax. It's like watching waves wash up on the shore: it's inevitable that they build and break, and yet it's thoroughly enjoyable at the same time. I really like the beat in this one, and think that this song is a real high point of this genre.

Noteworthy for a completely different reason is Summer Clip. This song is louder than others on the disc, and features the most heavliy processed computer noises. In fact, there is some funky bleeping and blooping in the foreground that, in all honesty, sounds like R2D2 trying to rap! Really -- it's a strange rhythm built out of "droid speech" type sounds. Very silly, yet when combined with a distorted beat and loud droning keyboards, makes an energetic and fun song.

I also like Manic Thru Tone, which is a purely ambient tune. Keyboards echo in the foreground, and a slight, crunchy beat thumps away behind it. It's mellow and lovely. A fine use of keyboards.

So there you go: this album fits into the increasing narrow and over-crowded genre of "keyboard and beat electronica" and does it well. In fact, this is my favorite example of this genre from 2002. However, i know that this stuff doesn't appeal to lots of people, and if you didn't like it before, you aren't going to like this.

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