Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Rob Nelson ~ My Avatar (EP)

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: instrumental, experimental, rock
Label: Laga Music
Year: 2012
Home: Chicago, Illinois

Members: Rob Nelson ~ all instruments


"If I get lost at sea/my iPhone will find me/as I get rescued post a video on youtube./Customize my avatar/don't know who my real friends are/stuck inside this machine" satirically sings a woman's soft voice in the opening title track, so much more emotional than a computer can ever be. Behind her comes drums, electronic tinklings & sweeps like a machine found on a sci-fi tv show ... before a rockabilly-esque guitar line leads the listener into the vocals introducing us to RB's My Avatar. This is little four song EP bubbles & tweets with real instruments that mix carelessly with electronic sounds & lots of loops to form an electronic-human mix ... where one ends & the other begins I don't know. Does it matter? Should I just post these songs to youtube & not care with good technological motivation? Is the point of the message not to care or begin to care about what the human-machine mix means? Should I just twitter this review a sentence at a time & not think about what that means? RN, whose very different last EP I reviewed, has responded to the modern computer world with curiosity. Or, is it animosity? Or apathy? Or love? Or, my always favorite, satire? Or, is Max Headroom back via RN quirky musical creativity? "Identity Element" makes up where "My Avatar" feels like some opening remarks. Actually, this reminds of the same rush I get when listening to the original Miami Vice theme or the Torchwood theme, it has that driving feel of an arrangement that doesn't want to sit still. Then we have distorted guitar against bubbling circuits in "Closed Circuit" that's the message song. We've had the introduction of where we are in the opening song, we've had the enjoyment of the computer itself with "Identity Element", now we get the personality of the machine, maybe a bit out of control, telling us what it knows - we're in trouble as machines are taking over our world & personalities. The song even sounds like the octopus aspect of machines where they're doing this, then that, then this, then over there. They move faster than we can come to grips with what's going on. Then there's the closer "End Transmission". The two instrumental cuts feel to be the most developed songs, probably because the song has to move forward without vocals. There's also a feeling that the real instruments become less & less against the wave of electronics or midi, even if this isn't technically true. Yes, the distorted guitars stay to the end, but they are just one layer of sound in a heavily layered but not cluttered EP. Further, while its a more electronic or midi album than real it's not a cold. That's the irony of it. It discusses computers but doesn't sound as cold or as alien as its composer might want. But, maybe its not supposed to. I'm reminded of 80's jazz-era Gary Numan, but without the angnst, versus electronically tinged dada-inspired straight on artsy industrial.

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