If I ever meet Marcelo Radulovich, I’m going to punch him right in the nose. It’s his fault that I almost had a damned heart attack in the middle of the supermarket last Sunday, listening to “Ziplock Tub,” the first track on this record; I turn on the Discman, hear some grindy industrial droning, and turn it up…just in time to hear the single loudest and most disturbing scream I’ve ever heard on a record. Dudes, I just lost it; I’m all “Yeeeaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhhh What the HELL?!?!?!?” in the middle of aisle 2, convinced that a bomb had just gone off or that my head was exploding or something. I’m still not sure I’m over it. So yeah, Radulovich, you better watch yourself, because I’ve got a big ol’ fist with your name on it for that one.
I’m guessing this happens all the time to Radulovich, because he’s the kind of prankster figure that I’m sure pisses people off right and left. The screaming, however, actually serves a purpose; on second listen, you realize that he’s yelling “Hello!” in a big ol’ hardcore voice, and this word serves throughout as a stylistic motif. Yep, it’s conceptual experimental industrial techno, but Radulovich is talented enough so that half the experimental stuff really pays off.
As long as he sticks with something approximating a beat or a pulse or a plan, I’m loving this stuff all the way, even when it’s too damned hard to listen to and I have to shut it off and go listen to the Bangles fifteen times in a row. The rest of “Ziplock Tub” has some cool stuff going on with voices overlapping as they say “hello”; “Greeter” turns “hello” into the basic building block of some freaky trek through the jungle; “Dervishes” uses guitar feedback (or is it theremin synth… oh hell, I don’t care) together with some kind of Oompa-Loompa “hello” nonsense to construct a soundsculpture that’s far from easy but still works.
My favorite pieces here are the ones that pull in outside influences: street music from Costa Rica, ambience from San Francisco, guest jazz musicians on “Earthworm” and its evil twin “Version 115B.” Radulovich, a San Diego-based fella born in Chile, knows how to make the beautiful ugly and the ugly beautiful, and as long as he chooses to do that in a thoughtful way I’m down with that.
But then there are the pieces that aren’t thoughtful or interesting at all. I’m counting the 14-minute “Caterpillar” as one of those: it’s a drone, and it’s a drag, and I could do this if I had about $120 and some samplers, and it’s a quarter-hour of my life I’ll never get back. I feel the same about “Extract Hell Out of O,” which kind of sounds like aliens being born in some horrible way on a far off planet, except not as nice as all that — but at least it’s only five minutes long!
But when he’s on, like in the penultimate track “Rice and Beans,” which uses Latin music cliche samples (cowbell, percussion) and that nagging funny weird “hello” sample to make up a smart dark yucky thing, he’s on for real, and I salute him. Doesn’t mean I’m not gonna pop him in the nose for scaring the bejeezus out of me in the Paper Goods aisle, but still.