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Wednesday, March 8, 2000

Futurism without the future

Posted By on Wed, Mar 8, 2000 at 12:00 AM

Based on the evidence presented at the installation-art extravaganza of the same name recently held at detroit contemporary gallery, The Forgotten Sounds of Tomorrow explores the fruition of a well-honed minimalist take on bass and beats, one that rarely breaks its regulated clip for vocals, samples or even nonbeat-oriented ambience. The album highlights at least one track from each of Ersatz’s 12-inch releases, with two tracks from Adult., Le Car and Artificial Material, and single shots from a number of other groups such as Perspects and Lesseninglesson.

But though the album may be nice and soulless – something the collective is evidently trying to achieve – Ersatz’s apparent understanding of musical history is lacking. Their Gucci Crew (1987)-meets-Kraftwerk (1978) retro-halfway, albeit done decently, does not a great musical stride forward make. And, like detroit contemporary itself – which is located on Rosa Parks Boulevard in the Motor City – there is the distinct impression of pomo-SoHo-in-the-ghetto gentrification happening on this record, in which EA revels in the ghetto sound (i.e. Detroit radio on a Saturday night) without actually being a part of it (playa hating doesn’t seem to be an issue).

If you want an island of aesthetic purpose in the middle of booty rather than a straight dance-floor document pandering to your gluteus, you’re in luck. If you want the future, though, I would still recommend listening to Kraftwerk’s The Man Machine and then picking up a guitar.

Because this music is so heavily dependent on kickin’ computero-beats, and because no group really breaks the album’s standard mold, Forgotten can have a gimmicky feel at times, as many a group attempts to establish its individuality with Sega-esque melody lines and hooks. Because of this, the set, at its worst, has the feel of nursery rhymes caught in a Moog instruction manual. But in the final analysis, these are tracks not songs, damnit(!). The album seems to say, "This is our story and we’re sticking to it."

And it does. Bravo.


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