Monday, June 01, 2009 • 12:00 AM Comments ()

Random Access Orkestra, Ray Mason

posted by James Heflin

Random Access Orkestra

RAO is a miasmal, cut-and-paste smorgasbord of loops, live instruments and vocals, spoken word rants and almost propagandistic, Orwellian samples from old movies, educational videos and the like. The musical bed ranges from ’70s-era Weather Report fusion to Chemical Brothers trance-dance to modern industrial (a la Nine Inch Nails), though its overall m.o. seems to be to stroke rather than jolt. Several musicians are credited in the liner notes, but it’s unclear who plays what, how much is looped, etc. The guitar work is among the highlights on the record, weaving intricate eastern scales in Frippian feedback tones, and de-tuned pianos keep the feel of the work organic and, above all, Randomly accessible. Nothing here, however, sounds accidental.

—Tom Sturm

Ray Mason

Like Bugs Chewing On Paper

Captivating Music

Ray Mason’s new album has both the familiar sincerity of his typical pop style and more than a few interesting departures from the norm. Employing wunderkind Jim Weeks as producer (and pretty much his entire backing band) has made for an interesting potpourri of musical flavor and instrumentation. Anyone who knows Ray’s music will raise an eyebrow at songs like “Go On and Kiss Him” and “Tourist in Town,” the former steeped in a slinky samba groove and the latter funked-out with Stevie Wonder-style clavichord and Spoon-ish guitar parts. Still, Mason likes to keep them short and sweet, with the longest track (the dark and surfy “Ceiling”) clocking in at a whopping 3:26.

—Tom Sturm

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