Plus-Tech Squeeze Box – Cartoom! – 4.5/5
As I write this my entire life is packed away neatly into boxes, and I am left in the corner of an entirely white room, sterile and cold; the only distinguishing feature the glow from the computer monitor, and yet this bouncy and boisterous half hour of punky, jazzy pop-like madness manages to fill the room with washes of colour. This is the sort of music that could transform a film-noir scene of rainfall, darkness and ominous shadows threateningly approaching from the black into this; you could be lying on your deathbed and still not help cracking a smile at the kooky, funky, trip-hop grooves and furious banjos work.
A concept album based on a fictional, futuristic cartoon about a female android created by a couple of scientists, in some senses it follows on from my last review of Strawberry Machine, somewhat at home amongst the terms ‘Shibuya-Kei’ and ‘Picopop,’ but this is far from that dream-like slower atmosphere. Rather than being trapped amongst the clouds of 80s games, I’m now thrust into the world of children’s Saturday morning television, viewed through the eyes of a small child with a very short attention span and one tentative finger on the remote. Flicking through at rapid pace, high paced short samples of music (and indeed, dialogue) ranging from big band swing, acid jazz, bubblegum pop, punk, rock, lounge and hip-hop are all intercut with one another to form something that I don’t think will sound like hyperbole if I called rather technical in its nature, finally settling on a single style. At least until he gets bored. Which will most definitely happen within two minutes.
Despite the chaotic manner everything is cut up, unpredictably ‘flicking between musical channels,’ an odd coherency emerges, not only to the track but to the album as a whole. There simply is no fat whatsoever; everything serves a purpose in shaking things up; the sheer number of styles frenetically poised to take over at whim resulting in a piece that whilst less than 30 mins long feels packed with so much addictive variety that it becomes almost tireless. Different vocalists emerging almost as spontaneously as the samples, often they come across in that gentle and soothing manner, drifting across psychedelically to lend that final touch of coherency, stringing everything together.
It is that child-like innocence that runs throughout the entire piece – irrespective of what genre the current clip belongs to – that combination of cute adorable vocals and upbeat, bouncing, boisterous rhythms creating a tone that you can’t help but grin from ear to ear. Whilst it requires something of an open mind to appreciate, and is unfortunately short, there is no real way of adequately describing the mood this manic music manages to create. Comissioned to write music for Spongebob Squarepants, they have also had an earlier track used for both Coca-Cola and Powerade adverts. Welcome to the sound of raw, unadulterated fun.
Highlights: Dough-Nuts Towns Map, Starship.6, Uncle Chicken’s Drag Race