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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Totakeke - "Forgotten On The Other Side Of The Tracks"

Artist: Totakeke
Album: Forgotten On The Other Side Of The Tracks
Year: 2008
Label: Tympanik Audio
Genre: Intelligent Rhythmic Industrial
Website: www.myspace.com/elekatota

Apparently Totakeke has gone from side project to the most prolific man in modern industrial music. He released two albums up to ’04, laid dormant for a while, and now in 2008 he has put out three releases and has a double-cd scheduled for release early next year. I was a huge fan of eLekatota earlier this year, so obviously I am eager to get my hands on any new material by Totakeke (which I still think is a hella weird name).

Packaging: 5/10
MUCH better than the last release, although not particularly interesting. A one fold digipak with a giant gear on the front. The inside is a dark tunnel or something. Either way the photos (by Justin Brink of Pneumatic Detach fame) are crystal clear so at least it looks worthy of a professional release.

Composition: 8/10
The music is once again pretty cool and interesting, although since this album seems to be comprised of some amount of “reworkings” of older tracks and some remixes, it is less intense than the previous full length, which seemingly came out of nowhere with a totally unique style. It’s like watching Saw 2 after the first one; all the brilliance of the first and totally revolutionary movie can’t be captured again in the same way. Anyway “Forgotten…” provides a solid listen, for new or returning fans alike. The tracks that I don’t recognize as being reworkings are all solid and sound like a slightly evolved progression, or perhaps more of a honing of style, from the tracks of eLekatota. They have a similar eclectic ambient/intelligent rhythmic industrial vibe to them, but sound different and competent enough that I would not assume them to be b-sides from eLekatota. Tracks like “Left At The Station 1”, “Jetee” and “Dead Set On Living” are all awesome pieces that I find myself wanting to listen to over and over. Again the focus is on rhythmic elements (though still not distorted…I guess that’s left for his work in Synth Etik) combined with atmospheric elements (pads, samples, and beeping noises mostly). It would have been nice to hear more melodies on this, but the pads integrate extremely well with the never ending currents of rhythmic noises, so much so that melodic elements might be too much. The rhythmic sounds are enough to carry this work. There are a lot less samples it seems on this, which is kind of sad because I really enjoyed the sampled voices of eLekatota. The tracks that I do recognize as reworkings are interesting in their own way, but I attribute part of the fact to just being able to say “oh, it’s a new version of XXX”. For instance in “Plug Me Back In” when I hear samples or bits I recognize I think “oh wow that sounds really cool”, but only because the original track is really awesome and the nostalgia of remembrance is the thing that is cool. On their own these tracks are fairly well done, but I don’t find them as interesting or griping as the originals. If you’re a new fan you will enjoy them, but I would recommend hearing the original versions asap. Although I do give him points because most of the new versions are significantly different, and therefore worthy of being released as a new and different piece.

I am not so keen on the remixes by outside artists though. Pandora’s Black Book and Lucidstatic are two projects by the same guy, and I have no idea why both are on here or why there are even two projects because the two mixes sound exactly the same (doesn't help they are of the same track). I didn’t like the Lucidstatic CD because it felt overly random while managing to be painfully repetitive as well as lacking in dynamics & direction, and that is exactly how these two mixes feel. A bunch of random and not particularly captivating glitches with some of Totakeke’s sounds mixed in. They lack direction and cohesion. The Terrorfakt mix has all the pros and cons of any Terrorfakt song. It’s hard and stompy, but it’s very straight-forward. Fans of Terrorfakt will definitely enjoy though, and it’s and interesting change from the texture of the rest of the album. I hope it catches some club play because it would be nice to hear ANYTHING Totakeke in a club.

Production: 9.5/10
The production, like all Tympanik releases, is damn near flawless. No real complaints

Artistic Merit: 7.5/10
Any fan of the idea of “intelligent rhythmic industrial” will love this release for sure. Anyone who hasn’t heard Totakeke before should find this to be fairly revolutionary, as I found eLekatota to be. If you have heard previous stuff than you will not be as amazed by this, but I still think this holds merit when compared to its contemporaries. It still very much lives up to the description “intelligent rhythmic industrial”.

Flow: 7.5/10
For the most part the album flows very well and the tracks blend into each other nicely. Sometimes I can’t even tell that a new track has started, however this is meant in the best possible way. It’s like a continuance of a logical sequence of ideas, and those ideas never become played out or stale.
The only hindrance to the flow is the remixes by outside artists. The Lucidstatic and Terrorfakt mixes are at the end of the CD, and when you get to them it’s kind of like ‘ok time for something different’, but the Pandora’s Black Book mix at track 4 sounds out of place and kind of ruins the flow that the first part of the CD has going

Overall Rating: 8/10
Overall, Forgotten On The Other Side Of The Tracks is a good release and will not disappoint any fan of Totakeke’s work thus far or fans of any release on Tympanik Audio. I don’t find it to be as powerful or eye-opening as the previous release, but this is still a solid release that will be worth many good listens. The new tracks here are great and a welcome follow up to eLekatota; the re-workings are interesting as new versions of old tracks and still manage to be pretty good as stand alone tracks. The subpar remixes are the only thing that serious mars this album. However, the Terrorfakt mix isn't terrible and in fact works interestingly in this context. One thing that I think hurts this album a bit is perhaps the over-saturation of Totakeke material put out recently. In addition to eLekatota and this album, there is a recently released free download called Past:Present:Future which has a few tracks from this album (well it has a few tracks from all of his albums) on it, as well as a free compilation of NY electronic acts that has “Dead Set On Living” on it. Due to the fact that I keep hearing Totakeke, and there is so much overlap on all these releases, it is all starting to blend together to me and the interestingness is lost in that muddle. I think Totakeke needs to take some time off before releasing something else that sounds too close to what fans have already heard because the greatness of it will likely be stifled.

-dan barrett

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