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Quantazelle is the musical project of Chicago-based busybody Liz McLean Knight. Get this: in addition to recording music, she also runs the label this CD came out on (not really that uncommon for an artist to also run a label), an online 'zine about the Chicago electronica scene, and a jewelry company, for which she might also actually make the jewelry. How does this woman find time to sleep?

Anyway, that said, i am all the more impressed with the fine job she did on this album. Coaster is, and i do not say this lightly, the best electronica album i have heard since Aphex Twin's Drukqs. It combines an eclectic feel using various different laptoptronic sounds with a sense of melody and musicianship that is not often seen in the laptoptronic world. Really, Quantazelle has a fine sense of melody and that is what makes Coaster so impressive.

For example, at several times in the past few weeks i have caught myself humming a tune while i cleaned up, did the dishes, etc, and the tune that i keep humming is Pedwards, which is on this album. When is the last time you unconsciously hummed an IDM tune? Chances are never, because melody is subservient to rhythm in this genre. Well, Quantazelle has some nice rhythm on Pedwards in the form of scattered clanging metallic sounds in adddition to something that sounds like old school record scratching. But then she combines this with a high flute riff and some staccato keyboards sounds that repeat a head bopping riff over and over. Really an amazing tune, and i simply adore it. And i hum it....

The album also displays an amazing knowledge of the recent history of electronic music, in that many of the songs take elements from other acts and re-combine them is new and interesting ways. For example, Ping Query is constructed out of a simple, very light keyboard riff with tinkling rhythms which sound like something Autechre might have used on Incunnabula. And Clue Minus You features a thudding beat and prominent keyboard melody that, at times, sounds almost like Underworld, or mid-era Cabaret Voltaire. With the throbbing beat, i bet this is popular on the dance floor. However, Quantazelle adds some rather interesting IDMish sounds to the mix, making it more than simple dance music. There is a similar throbbing beat in Belmont Killa, but this beat reminds me more of Fluke, and it is buried under layers of clanging sounds, piano, and strange vocal samples. It's an uneasy song, and, despite the throbbing beat, would not be a good club tune. It's interesting listening, just not dance floor fodder.

But Quantazelle is also familiar with the mellower end of the electronica spectrum. Vanity Knobs with Groove Grimace is a nice mellow tune in the vein of Casino vs. Japan, while It's Fizzbang takes those same luscious keyboard drones and combines them with world beat percussion a la Young American Primitive.

What i am trying to get at here is that Quantazelle displays some serious diversity in her music, and not that her music is derivative. Far from it. Although i hear echoes of many other bands, i think the combination of the sounds is pretty unique. And of course she adds her own little software-y flourishes to the music, as well as her sense of melody.

There is not a bad song on this album, and i am very impressed. If you are interested in laptoptronica, then Quantazelle is an artist to watch out for and Coaster is a "must have" record.

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