µ-ziq, Royal Astronomy (CD, 58:42); Astralwerks ASW 6275-2 Astralwerks, 1999 104 West 29th St., 4th Floor New York, NY 10001 Phone: 212-886-7573 (Alison Tarnofsky) E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cyberhome: www.astralwerks.com µ-ziq, pronounced "music," is the nom de guerre of Mike Paradinas, a 27-year-old electronic music wizard based in Britain. Royal Astronomy is his fifth CD under this particular pseudonym (he has others). One of a cadre of electronic artists that have elevated the techno/dance genre into a true art form, µ-ziq continues to craft startlingly original sounds, beats, and loops. The record opens with "Scaling," a majestic melody featuring a wonderful strings patch that sounds like the violin section of a symphony orchestra. As the tune builds, it's punctuated by timpani drum sounds. There's no sign of typical techno dance beats; the groove is implied and established solely by the strings. By opening his record in this fashion, µ-ziq is making a radical statement - not to mention some beautiful music. A similar strategy is employed on "Slice," which could have been written by Chopin. Its sophisticated counterpoint and catchy melody is played by keyboards that almost sound like children's voices. "Mentim," "Gruber's Mandolin," and "Goodbye, Goodbye" are also based on strong melodic material rather than a persistent drumbeat. The drumbeats do make their appearance, however, and they're unfailingly slamming. "The Hwicci Song," which I suppose is onomatopoeia for scratching turntables, sounds something like a 21st century Frankenstein soundtrack. "Autumn Acid" features an overdriven, wah-soaked keyboard bass line and a shimmying funk drum groove. "Carpet Muncher," an album highlight, is an uptempo yet understated soul song with great retro keyboard sounds. "The Motorbike Track" and "Burst Your Arm" are frenetic, extended dance cuts. In sum, it's a very entertaining ride. ~David R. Adler
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