(No Kings)

Look at the graphic layout and florescent color palette of this three ink silk screened cassette jacket. It's like visual catnip to the young, eccentric and decadently subversive. What right minded weirdo can say no to a confrontational Halloween orange skeleton bejeweled with hot pint rhinestones? But brace yourself, gentle reader, because the most exciting thing is that the design work isn't even the best part of this release.

Trabajo is an extremely unique melodic act who incorporates well timed synthetic bongo beats, middle eastern scales, elements of noise loops, Gamlans and the subtlest of egg shaker rhythms to make truly trippy instrumental songs. Fans of High Places, Tortoise and Brian Eno will easily be able to get behind this.

Highlights from the five song Trabajo side are Mad at Lovely and Pi Pa Lu, which both sound simultaneously like meditation sessions in a rain forest and getting bliss-ed out forever by the world's most compelling computer screen saver.

Unfortunately, the Madrugapha side B, while admirable in its daring sonic explorations, fails in comparison to the Trabajo side only because it never graduates away from disorienting noise alphabet soup. It resembles mid-career Black Dice, particularly the album of theirs "Beaches and Canyons" . There are looped falsetto moans mixed with wind instruments and what sounds like a music box being cranked at various time signatures. But unlike Beaches and Canyons, Madrugapha doesn't go anywhere. Usually I prefer music that is more loose than structured, but a song like "Purple Swamp" just doesn't really seem to materialize into anything. The freer structure in this case is only acting as an enabler to below par flute solos that sound like they're running out of ideas.

With this said, I am being rather harsh only because the Trabajo side is so considered, complex, contemporary and, let's face it, a more superior and successful release. The Madrugapha side is not without its own minor triumphs. For example, the song Rotovolquismo adds a much needed grit to this album in the form of a looping guitar. But again, the looping becomes static and tiring. I like how various ideas and influences are thrown into Madrugapha's mix, but they happen at a snail pace when compared to a Ryan Trecartin movie. It can give off a meditative vibe, but when that vibe is also kind of menacing, it equals a menacing meditative vibe, which is an oxymoron.

Madrugapha's El Planeta Nubaru is the most successful of his three songs. The song's base is a slowly revolving piano chord progression. On top of all this are whirling keyboard chords that are held out over long periods of time. Again, the song is atmospheric, but this time the mood of the song clicks in and becomes transcendent.

Overall, this is a fantastic cassette. High recommendations.

Here is Trabajo's bandcamp where you can hear his side of the story ---

--Jack Turnbull