DJ Methodikal – Alarmingly Lo-Fi

DJ Methodikal
Alarmingly Lo-Fi

DJ Methodikal’s Alarmingly Lo-Fi is described as a “challenging collection of gritty, intensely rhythmic electronic assaults.” Typically, self-written material is way off the mark, inserting “exciting” where “boring” should be and calling anything that isn’t really very good “innovative.” But man, this one hit the nail on the head.

The album starts off with “Bad Touch.” A heavily synthesized voice counts to four, and the assault begins. The drums are twisted and mechanical, the cymbals are sharpened to knife points, and the gentle bleeps and bloops that normally accompany – uh, whatever kind of music this is – are drenched in acid. My first impulse was to describe DJ Methodikal as instrumental hip-hop, but his music is really more like techno, only supercharged and serrated.

“This Man Does Things He’s Not Proud Of” picks off right where “Bad Touch” left off, flying off the handle and only barely holding onto any semblance of melody. “You Be Bad” is driven by a more digestible beat; the drums hold a sensible rhythm and are joined by transcendent crash cymbals. “I’m Bucking for First Chair” slows down the pace a bit (to sprain-neck rather than break-neck) but really never goes anywhere. And by the way, all the songs are starting to sound similar.

“I Gotta Finish My Letter to Jodie Foster” is even worse; DJ Methodikal drops any semblance of a melody, opting instead for cascading waves of abrasive noise. Now I’m at “If Ya Get Near a Song Play It,” and I swear I’ve heard this song earlier on the album – really, not just a song like it, but this exact song. Maybe it’s true, or maybe the grating noises that litter the landscape of every song on Alarmingly Lo-Fi have finally burned themselves into my skull, burning my neural circuitry and skipping like a broken CD player.

Perhaps it’s not fair that I am reviewing this album. After all, I’m coming into it with certain preconceptions about music. I can handle my share of deviations from perfect pitch and fluid melody, but in general, I want listening to music to be a pleasant experience. I’ve been duly warned by the artist and by the album’s name itself, but still, I’d rather not have to listen to an album that dares me to back down. I’ll leave this one for the more adventurous among us.