Music

2 Bit Pie: 2 Pie Island

2 Pie Island, for the most part, might as well be the next Fluke record, even as it outshines anything Fluke ever did in both variety and scope.


2 Bit Pie

2 Pie Island

Contributors: Fluke, Syntax, Yukiko Ishii
Label: One Little Indian
US Release Date: 2006-10-31
UK Release Date: 2006-09-04
Amazon
iTunes

Fluke totally got the shaft.

Sure, Fluke tasted a little bit of success with that firecracker of a single "Atom Bomb", and "Absurd" sure got licensed to enough movies, commercials and video games to pay the mortgage for a couple of years, but other than that, Fluke was a largely ignored entity amongst the "electronica" explosion of the late '90s. And it's a shame, too, because Fluke had a better vocalist than Prodigy, they could drop a beat better than Orbital, and they were generally far more consistent than Underworld -- thus putting them, at the very least, in the same league as the heavy hitters that frequently outshined them in the popularity department. Maybe it was the emotional detachment inherent in the sort of cool that singles like "Atom Bomb" and "Absurd" trafficked in, maybe it was a sound that didn't go far enough away from electronic dance to cross over into other charts, or maybe Fluke's publicists simply didn't pay off enough people to get the sort of radio play necessary to be mentioned among the giants; regardless of the reasons, Fluke has largely been forgotten in the years since the release of the coulda-been-huge Risotto.

This isn't for lack of activity, necessarily. While not exactly prolific, the duo of Jon Fugler and Mike Bryant have released an album as Fluke as recently as 2003, the underappreciated Puppy, which incidentally garnered no buzz whatsoever. Obviously, it was time for a change.

2 Bit Pie is the name of that change, and whatever happened in the three years since Puppy, Fugler and Bryant seem revitalized by their time off. 2 Pie Island is the name of the debut album, though on most counts it might as well be the next Fluke record -- it carries on Fluke's tradition of huge beats, sequencer noises that could effectively be described as "percolating", and the all-but-trademarked deep, raspy vocals Fugler made part of Fluke's signature sound way back in '97. Where 2 Pie Island manages to go even so far as to outshine Fluke is in its variety, in no small part spurred by the pile of friends, neighbors and acquaintances that show up alongside Bryant and Fugler to help give 2 Bit Pie its own unique identity.

Not least of these is Jan Burton, formerly of Syntax, which, incidentally, was itself an offshoot of Fluke spurred on by the departure of founding member Mike Tournier. His presence provides vocal counterpoint to Fugler's bass, allowing higher tenor pitches to have their say amongst the bubbling electronics. Nowhere is this contrast more pronounced than in album opener "Fly", a Fluke soundalike that features Fugler doing his typical, stream-of-consciousness deep-voiced thing, until a beautiful chorus finds Burton stepping into the trance vocalist role, soaring over the distortion rather than swimming amongst it. That same duality drives the fantastically groovy and pleasingly minimal "Here I Come", thus marking the point at which the listener has accepted that 2 Pie Island will be, at the very least, a head-nodder from front to back.

Lest that same listener start thinking the band is quickly working itself into a rut at that point, however, the rest of the album would find such a sentiment to be a mistake. "Nobody Never" (the song that kicked off the 2 Bit Pie project) is a dark bit of house whose harmonized diva-vocals actually manage to recall the best moments KMFDM ever put to plastic, "PIL" is a smoothly orchestrated yet instrumentally distorted industrial rock workout destined for comparisons to Nine Inch Nails but more similar in aesthetic to Dink (remember Dink?), and "Mote" is a dramatic, downbeat whisper-fest fronted by vocalist Yukiko Ishii. And then, on the off chance that this wasn't enough variety, they toss an opera workout smack dab in the middle of the album, a six-minute masterpiece called "Soto Mundo" that features one Dilshani Weerasinghe, whose pure soprano pierces through the darkness of the sounds contained herein.

It is that darkness that unites 2 Pie Island, that darkness which serves as a bitten thumb to the nowhere-to-be-found Tournier, a sound that says dance music doesn't have to be all ecstacy and flourescent lights -- for what would we listen to in the end times? 2 Pie Island is never terribly innovative, nor is it ever making a grand artistic statement, but what it does, it does well -- dark, danceable electronic music that's just nostalgic enough in its approach to sound a bit retro (it has been 10 years since Risotto, after all). Time will tell whether 2 Bit Pie can achieve even the menial level of success that Fluke once enjoyed, but one thing's for sure now: The talent of the parties involved hasn't waned one bit.

8

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image