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Friday, Aug. 11, 2006

LISTENING POST: CD REVIEWS

Pitch Black "Halfway From Ape To Angel"


Some musical recipes are so obvious that you can't help wonder why no one hadn't thought of them earlier. Take New Zealand's Pitch Black, an electronic outfit who came up with the idea of fusing the endless echoes of dub with the propulsive, four-to-the-floor rhythms of trance. Equal parts cyber-Jamaican skank, and tweaked-out acid synths, Pitch Black's music is unique in its appeal to both Rastas and ravers.

True, Leftfield had a stab at this style in the early '90s, but they broke up before they could really develop it. With their third album, "Halfway From Ape To Angel," Pitch Black prove they have not simply taken on the mantle -- but that they now own it. Songs start with the barest of elements: a woofer-pushing bassline, a smattering of filtered, off-beat chords, and a simple, repeated melody line. But then they switch on the delays and reverbs to create vapor trails off a drum here, a chord there, until the echoes coalesce into complex, interlocking patterns. It's something King Tubby could only have dreamed of in the predigital old days. Pitch Black are as comfortable with spacious, moody pieces like "Flex," as they are with the dance floor reggae-shot-into-hyperspace ones like "Lost In Translation," which makes for an album singular in sound, but varied in feeling.



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