In the Japaneese culture, an Otaku is someone who frantically collects pop-culture related items, such as video games, comic books, pictures of teen idols, anime porn, etc. With that said, the two Otakus in review here, NaN and Colonel32 (AKA Otaku), frantically collect samples. Their debut album, Bitwise Operators was composed entirely of these samples, using only digital processes and tools.
This album is a mixed-bag of experimental beats, bleeps, samples, and lush soundscapes, all drifting in between downtempo, ambient, and droning robotic dub. “Barbarian Whores” is really the stand-out track here, a spooky, minimal downtempo track, with a “Brian Eno meets CabbageBoy” sound, while “Life in Plastic” has a dirty, distorted, pissed-off B-Boy feel to it. “Dub Bass 2” is an amusing, blunted out ambient/dub piece with a wholly satisfying bassline, and “The Dangling Conversation in Dub” is a clean, crisp (dare I say “happy”?) tribal piece that goes great with Sunday afternoon sunbathing excursions. The only complaint I have here is with “Dub Bass 1,” which starts off with a promising sound, but soon divulges into a very lengthy (nine minutes) dub journey, with unnecessary and outright annoying vocal samples that stand out like Richard Simmons at a Jerry Falwell fund-raiser.
All in all, Bitwise Operators is a great debut from Otaku, and although it does have its amateur sounding parts here and there, it is holistically strong, and is a pleasure to listen to. Be on the lookout for these guys, they’ve got a bright future.
Malvado Records, PO Box 4493, Berkley, CA 94704-0493; http://www.malvado.com