Kristian Craig Robinson is walking his own path, whether you like it or not. His first couple of full-lengths for Planet Mu at the tail end of the millennium were met with almost universal praise and a lot of hope, but he kinda fell off the map after that. His next record Happy Happy made it out in 2004, some five years later, and evolved his sound from glitchy, complex electronica to bubbly live alt rock smothered with smarmy vocals. It received little press and not much favor, but he quickly bounced back to modest notoriety with Nomad Junk the next year. As the title suggests, that record was a sample heavy travel journal that rerouted more of his earlier studio tricks through reconstituted field recordings bent on folktronica. It was a much better version of Up In Flames (Caribou) than its predecessor.
As a teaser for his fifth album, some three years in the making, “Libertania” sets you up to expect more Happy Happy songwriting with chirping effects, glowing synths, Her Space Holiday strings, and Utopian lyrics. It may be far from my favorite style of his, but it is tremendously unique, so some credit is due for the effort. The b-side “Go Go Go” flips moods to a dark, dripping tunnel with tinny guitars, a driving synth line, and less whimsical vocals. That one has this critic genuinely stoked for the September due album Notes From Life on the Wire With a Wrecking Ball. From all appearances, it should be just as blessedly twisted as Nomad Junk.