The Sexbots is the project of one Ilima Considine, a young lady from Portland, OR who supposedly plays in myriad other musical endeavors. This is her solo gig and consists of her singing over electronica provided by a two different collaborators. Because the actual music backing up the vocals is made by a variety of different people, this is kind of a schizophrenic release. However, well, in the post American Idol world, we all know that singing is the only really important part of music... But I wonít start on that rant here. Letís just move on.
On two of the six tracks, Ms. Considine collaborates with Air Fortress. This is all new to me. These two songs, tracks 2 and 5 on the EP, are the more electronic songs here, which is to say that these two definitely sound like they were made by some guy with a laptop and a vocalist.
The first of these is It's You, which uses distorted beats and happy keyboard riffs in a manner that reminds me of She Wants Revenge. However, the voice is layered several vocal lines deep, each one doing a different part. The extra layers of voice make the tune seem disorienting.
The other Air Fortress collaboration is called Too True and features Considine singing over a simple keyboard piece that mimics the old primitive sound of a 1970s computer. I know that kind of thing is very popular with the kids these days, but it hearkens back too far into my life and so is hard for me to listen to. One personís nostalgia is another personís "dark period in their past", if you know what I mean.
For the other four songs here, Considine collaborates with Jim Meyer, whose music is a little more synthpop/industrial than laptoptronic.
Angel starts with a wash of dark synths and some crunchy beats. Considine's voice is rich and breathily emotive. This reminds me a lot of This Is Not a Film-era Underwater. It has that sort of vaguely gothy, vaguely electronic sound. It really works though, the dark synths forming a nice contrast to the vocals.
When i saw that The Sexbots have a song called Cecilia, on first listen i was expecting (hoping for) a cover of the old Simon and Garfunkel tune. Alas, this is no cover, but rather an industrial rave tune a la VNV Nation or Rammstein, only with female vocals. It actually works really well, the intense beats driving along at a cracking pace while Considine sings lightly. Good stuff.
Oddly enough, the next song is called Driving Beat, but it is a less driving, industrial tune, and instead channels the languid surreality of Xiu Xiu. Considine sings in that subdued, anguished screaming that Jamie Stewart uses so well. It is paired up with some light piano and jazzy drumming. Nice in a "not uplifting" sort of way.
Finally we end with Dance Dance, which features a subdued guitar bit and clear forceful vocals. The voice is mixed way out front here, which it is different from the rest of the EP. It helps the song, i think.
One problem i have with this release is that it is recorded in a very lo-fi fashion, especially the stuff featuring Mr. Meyer. Dance Dance clearly was made with a computer and/or sequencer of some sort, and yet nothing sounds very clear. The sound is muddy, and all of the musical elements blur together too much. If you are making music using so many electronic elements, there is no reason for this level of muddiness.
It doesnít help that the vocals are often distorted to the point where they are hard to discern. I donít think that any of this is intentional. For example, Too True sound like Considine recorded her vocal part on her cell phone while sitting in a concrete basement. There is so much distorting echo that it is hard to know what you are listening to.
The overall lo-fi-ness of this release makes Eee Pee sound amateurish. Sonically, that is. The songs are more interesting, but they are so poorly presented here that most people will never see them, and that is a shame. I am curious to see where Considine is going with this project. She has some interesting ideas in songs like Angel and Driving Beat, so there is something there. Shame that the ideas are obscured by the production values, but oh well. Remember kids: there is no excuse for lo-fi electronica!