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....
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.
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
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.