Reviewed by James Richard Morris
'Beetu Lathri Kwan' is a difficult record to pin down. Aside from the apparent unpronouncability of the chosen moniker of this collaboration, between "old school industrial pioneers Blackhouse and Pacific 231", the album seems to be an intentional dissolution of traditional concepts of, well, music. According to the artists, this is "high quality material that defies all categories . a mix of jazz, electronic, ethnic and techno music that is as minimal as it is complex." Transcending the "implied borders of new music" the listener is in it for the long haul. Clocking in at almost 58 minutes, the 40 tracks that make up 'Beetu Lathri Kwan' are a real mixed bag, best described as an exercise in musical duality. The two mute "voices" of Blackhouse and Pacific 231 engage with samples "as a virtual band", recording "over the net . in Dublin, Ireland and Eureka, California . and mixed in thin air." The collaborative process which formed this mail-art music project is reflected down to the grassroots of song construction. This is a meeting of the tastes and preferences of genre of two artists, with the result being that slap-bass meets tabla drums, and everything in between. There are often two individual voices in the music, working together with a distinct lack of unhealthy competition or forced virtuosity, which is helpful from a listener's standpoint. The use of silences and of contrast in volume also makes for a less aggressive, more pensive body of work. As a listening experience, 'Beetu Lathri Kwan' at times captures one's attention and demands it, with the sporadic appearance of some funk riff or the unexpected re-introduction of an exciting sound motif to the mix. At others, however, such as the uncomfortable minute-loop that is track 30, I found myself wishing that the next track would begin. Strangely enough however, it is in the transitions between tracks, in the juxtaposition of contrasting sounds, that this sort of potentially unwise instrumentation finds some form of redemption. It is certainly as a whole that the album should be judged: although there are some standout tracks there is no tracklist here; to the effect that the sounds seem to bleed into each other. This fusion of art-forms and influences really does please the ear at it's best moments, while at its lesser ones it, at least, holds the listener's attention.
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