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Plastiq Phantom :: Enjoy The Art Of Lying Down Review

Splendid E-zine

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that Rahsaad Roland Kirk used to take his sax everywhere. He'd play on the bus, on school playgrounds, outside of theatres that played Speed or The Sweet Hereafter. Plastiq Phantom does that too, but he might make even better use of his time; rather than merely practice everywhere, Plastiq Phantom makes the practice space his thematic landscape. Enjoy the Art of Lying Down is art made during the "dead times" of the day. These are songs whose genesis and actual creation reached fruition during walks and bus trips to and from his workplace. They pointedly contain random noises (made when people bumped into him, or when his feet stepped in gum), yet these noises are trapped within a happily conventional framework, where there's a discernible beginning, middle and end.

The overall sound of Plastiq Phantom is not too distant from some Ennio Morricone material. It's somewhat emotional, not overly complex and able to create a fully functional world. You get your walls of lush textures, your hip-hoppety garden beats ("Transmodular Binary Influx") and your flushing toilets (sampled during a multi-purpose trip to the lavatory, in "Data Relapse") too. Departures from Morricone's sound are obvious too, as Plastiq Phantom's past is indelibly contained here; this is autobiographical electronica, in which the tone of the tracks makes it obvious that he once was in an indie pop band with a Yogi Bear crush (Family Size), or even that he once dug the first ten (and only first ten) seconds of a bizarre experimental piece (ascertained from the loop-crazy insanity of "Cultivated Oscillations").

While a few simpler song titles might work better in the overall meaning of his art -- I don't see any of this having much to do with technology, despite being electronic -- there's a great deal of humanity and warmth in these sound pieces. You don't play this disc while sitting down, admiring the cover art. Enjoy the Art of Lying Down is music best heard while on the move, be it in one's dreams or in one's daily movement from home to workplace, workplace to church, etc.

There's a wonderful bonus track here, too, and I think it should be judged in total separation from the other material. In this fun and funny piece, samples from Public Enemy and Chariots of Fire help set the foundation, while one Beaver-like kid tries to answer another one on the question, 'What's a penis?'"

- Theodore Defosse (Splendid)