Perhaps the best argument for the melding of man and machine since Steve Austin went bionic is "The Fire of Cumulative Hours" EP from Long Distance Runner. Essentially a one-man show starring Portland-based K. Briggs, "Cumulative" marks a masterful DIY debut of breakbeat electronica, both imaginative and playful, like the best of DJ Shadow.
"Los Nihongoristas" kicks off the disc, and serves as the litmus test: Either its repetitive crashing samples will drive you away or wax nostalgic for the Art of Noise. The remaining four tracks settle into a less experimental state of mind, with the title track delving into a smoky, mid-tempo groove. "After the Math" is a purposely odd-paced track of percussion and computer bleeps, recalling both Mogwai and Air.
But where "Fire" really takes spark is with "Mongolian Disco in Exile." Exotic and earthy, this five-minute slice of melodic manna is one the year's most infectious ass-shakers. LDR's full-length is planned for early '07; can't wait.
- Rod Lott