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  American Analog Set  
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American Analog Set are probably my favorite slowcore band. Of course, i am not known for my love of slowcore. I like pop okay. I really like ambient music. Combine the two and you get slowcore, which mostly bores me. AmAnSet (as they are often abbreviated) lean more to the pop side of things, and that is what i like about them. They have a warm, 1970's pop feel to them, caused in part by their prominent use of farfisa organ, as well as the mellow voice of lead singer Andrew Kenney.

In general, i find their music kind of retro. Not in the sense that i expect them to be wearing thrift-store mined polyester pants with feathered hair and playing lame disco tunes, but rather in that there is a certain slow, vaguely tired sensibility to their music. I associate that sound with the light pop of the 70's that i grew up listening to on car trips.

That is my general attitude towards AmAnSet. But i don't get any of that here. In fact, this is a surprisingly forward looking EP. It is AmAnSet as electro pop band, and i really really like it. I think it is the best thing they have done since the song It's All About Us (which is, after all, their classic tune). It helps that they chose to work with labelmates Her Space Holiday, as well as Belgian glitchster Styrofoam. Good choices, and all three bands turn in quality performances.

AmAnSet start the EP off with an obscurity: the All I Want for Christmas Mix of an old b-side called Desert Eagle. This is a decent little instrumental that sets the mood for the EP quite well. The organ dances lazily with some distorted drumming. The next song, however, i find to be pure brilliance. The song is These Days (Amanset Keystroke Mix) which is, if you are paying attention, AmAnSet's cover of a song off of Manic Expressive by Her Space Holiday. And rather than take this electro pop song and simply slow it down, AmAnSet try to be somewhat faithful to the original while still doing it with instruments rather than computers. The song is all lightly strummed guitars, quiet voice, and farfisa drone, with the drumming going crazy! The AmAnSet drummer cuts loose in a way that he never has on any of their releases. He lays down a funky breakbeat, and the song, for me, soars. It's catchy -- damned catchy. I love it when a cover song transcends the original, and that is just what AmAnSet succeed in doing here.

The next two tracks are from the just-covered Her Space Holiday, and they are remixes of songs from Know By Heart, AmAnSet's latest full-length. First up is Aaron and Maria (Her Space Holiday Mix), which was a slow ballad, and now is a glitched out dance nightmare. Her Space Holiday have added layers of fuzz and distortion to the guitars and organ, and cranked up the level on the beat. It's funky and noisy and not anything like what AmAnSet normally sound like. And yet, that clearly is Kenney's voice. I find this to be an interesting song, a nice fusion of pop and glitch. The next track is the Her Space Holiday Mix of Know By Heart and i really like it. Basically, this is a hip-hop and drum n bass tune constructed, in part, out of AmAnSet samples. If it were on a different release, i wouldn't connect it with AmAnSet at all. As such, i must say that it is a bouncey little song, and when it explodes into frenetic drum n bass towards the end it really works. More fine tunes from Her Space Holiday.

The EP concludes with two remixes by Styrofoam, who is a Belgian laptopper that i have been hearing some buzz about. He turns in two fine tracks. The first is Styrofoam's Just Like the Nineties Never Happened Mix of Postman. Kenney's voice and the farfisa are clear over glitch beats. It's a restrained remix, pleasant but not spectacular. The final track is Styrofoam's Freezer Burn Mix of We're Computerizing and We Just Don't Need You Anymore, which, let's face it, is just begging to be remixed. (I mean, look at that title....) The mix Styrofoam turns in here starts as an almost ambient mess of drones with Kenney's distorted voice and little tinkling sounds for beats. Slowly some powerful keyboarding comes along and drives the song to its conclusion. It's very well done.

In fact, now that i look back at my notes like this, i realize that in all three cases each band turns in a decent mix and then follows it with something wonderful and interesting. Hmmm. I wonder if that was intentional.

At any rate, this is a damned fine release. It is part of the ever growing electro pop fusion scene, and a damned fine example of it too. If you like Her Space Holiday or The Postal Service or similar things, then definitely check this out. I am not sure how hardcore slowcore fans (die-hard AmAnSetters) will handle this, though. It's very different for AmAnSet, so if you aren't too fond of change, approach with caution.

Related Links:

AmAnSet and Her Space Holiday doing some of this stuff, live.


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