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Music

Kid Spatula: Meast

Lee Henderson

Kid Spatula

Meast

Label: Planet Mu
US Release Date: 2004-05-18
UK Release Date: 2004-04-26
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Was anybody warned that acid is addictive? Aren't we supposed to be tired of it by now? Back in 1990-whatever-it-was, I was deep into the toxic shock of all those Aphex tabs, not to mention the hundreds of squirrelly hours I spent tripping on Luke Vibert's Plug and Wagon Christ. The hippies called it a flashback, but this has gone on for like 15 years straight and the hits keep on coming. Granted, it's the same old dealers who keep peddling it year after year, but it's good shit. Back in the early days of acid, when the 303 synth and the ring modulator helped turn raves into Charles Mansonized weekend festivals for brain-eating teenage zombies, Mike Paradinas was making some of the most insane stuff out there under the name Mu-Ziq. For a while, he was releasing new albums every year or so. Not just good records, but great records, filled with Godzilla breaks and acid synth that turned your breath to fire. He was among the most revered artists of the new scene, whose awful name, Intelligent Dance Music, had yet to be fully memorialized by critics. For a good decade almost, Paradinas was so busy making music he had to find another name to get his leftovers to the people, so he started to put out more stuff as Kid Spatula.

2003 saw Warp do its first release with Vibert, a phenomenal record of pure, scintillating acid called YosePH -- his best record to date. Acid is the name of the game for Aphex Twin and Squarepusher's recent collaboration as managers of the Man label. And 2004 brings us a megadose of Kid Spatula. Whether or not Meast is Paradinas cleaning out the Mu vaults, he's just released a stunning double CD featuring 34 tracks and a billion minutes worth of acid anxiety.

The thing is, not a second of it sounds dated. It doesn't sound old. Or, if the sound on Meast is dated, then the speed at which electronic music retro-izes yesteryear's unique fidelities is so fast that the classic IDM sound is now pleasantly mainstream. I can't help think I've just heard all those freaky early Mu beats in a Ghostface Killa track; that sound like the digital monkeywrech jamming the cogs of a machine in a polygonal widget factory. Really cranky sounding beats. Anyway, it sounded totally mind-boggling at the time, and today it sounds hot.

There was a time in the '90s when ripping open a Mu-Ziq record was a big deal -- I think it was, at least for a small but enthusiastic demographic in every major city a big deal. The album In Pine Effect is a particularly memorable experience for me personally that I won't go into at the moment. I also have stories about release dates for Seefeel and Autechre albums, in case you're interested. What I'm noticing now is that I still make sure to get the albums on the day they come out, but that I have fewer stories to tell about the experience. The last Mu-Ziq record, Bilious Paths, was a massive creation, probably the best tracks of his life. Even so, there wasn't a big stink about the record. Same people back in the day who'd be freaking about a new release by Paradinas are now all gabber-mouthed over Manitoba or Fennesz or Kid 606.

The temperament of the music subculture today has relaxed a lot since the '90s. We no longer prefer such tight borders between genres, so we're choosing Four Tet's digital-analog braidwork over a more purist electronic artist like Paradinas. It's the same with rock. You could say the same thing about TV on the Radio taking the place of the Jesus Lizard. It's not a judgement on music tastes. All that it means is, hold on to your Paradinas and Tortoise records, maybe you're starting to disagree with the sound, it's all a little too... how do you say?... Bill Clinton? But in about two more years you're going to be glad you have them, because that tight, restricted sound is going to start to feel really freaky fresh. Meast is the bullseye in that strange emotional paradox: nostalgia for the future.

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