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Alva Noto

Xerrox Vol. 2

(Raster-Noton; US: 3 Feb 2009; UK: 26 Jan 2009)

If one could pinpoint the major fault with the latest collection by Carsten Nicolai, better known as Alva Noto to those with a good grasp of what constitutes provocative and exciting experimental music these days, it is that it lacks in surprises. For instance, while Xerrox Vol. 2 is more of a droning, monotonic affair than its predecessor (Xerrox Vol.1 ), with noisier tracks that bleed into one another rather than checker themselves like a decorated circuit breaker, the album’s invocation of stark, often gorgeous cinematic whole notes encompassed by neon spark-plug fuzz should not be the least bit shocking to anyone who owns the first (and slightly more essential) installation in this proposed series of 5 or for anyone who has had his or her ear to the powerlines since the days of Kid606’s P.S. I Love You. It’s perhaps no surprise either that Nicolai received generous donations in the form of samples from experimental composer Michael Nyman, KTL and Sunn O)) member Stephen O’Malley and frequent collaborator and living legend Ryuichi Sakamoto nor will anyone acquainted with Nicolai’s body of work be the least bit furrow browed when he or she discovers that the rest of the album’s sounds came from things called the “continental airline malfunctioning inflight program” and the “metaphysical function 1 and 2”. And at this point, it’d be hard to be stunned that the folks at Raster Norton have again outdone themselves with the simple, yet elegant and precise packaging, shaped rectangularly so that the disc more resembles a piece of letterhead paper than a musical product. Xerrox Vol 2 is a delectable compilation of textures—even if they all remain a little flat and free from the dynamism of surprise. The question remains: When lined up amongst the other Xerroxs, will Vol. 2 stand out or appear as just a facsimile?

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Timothy Gabriele is a writer who studied English and Film at the University of Massachussetts at Amherst. He currently lives in the New Haven, CT region with his fmaily. His column, The Difference Engine, appears regularly at PopMatters. He can be found twittering @Wildcorrective and blogging at 555 Enterprises.


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Alva Noto - Xerrox Monophaser 1
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