July 30, 2004

Sixtoo "Chewing On Glass & Other Miracle Cures"

When I get a record from a veteran act I've never heard before, I sometimes feel frustrated that I don't have the benefit of understanding the band's past. I'd like to know from where the act is coming from, especially if the record is one I really like. Could I possibly be missing out on better music? Could this record indeed be the band's worst release? I have no way of knowing. Of course, I really cannot say that this sort of ignorance of a band's past is a bad thing--it creates an objectivity that's quite important for fair music criticism.

Canadian composer Sixtoo has made rather eclectic, brooding music for several years, and I'd love to hear more, because Chewing On Glass & Other Miracle Cures is a fascinating listen. While the music runs from electronica to hip-hop and beyond, it's impossible to classify as one particular style, making listening an exciting event. What is true, though, is that nearly all of the songs are dark, dense and instrumental, ranging from the cinematic to enigmatic. Occasionally there's a little bit of funk (such as "Chainsaw Breakfast") and there are a few songs with vocals that range from rap ("Funny Sticks Reprise") to beatnik jazz ("Horse Drawn Carriage"). Can's Damo Suzuki also makes an appearance on "Stork Clouds & Silver Linings."

Chewing On Glass & Other Miracle Cures is a complex, thick record. It might be even more difficult to listen to were it not for the well-written notes that Sixtoo has provided, describing in great detail what he envisioned for each song or how he created each track. These little descriptions show a man who enjoys making his music and who wants the world to see his why he created each song. In a surprising twist, his notes make the record a lot more enjoyable; his descriptions detail the little technical tricks you might have ignored or overlooked at the time, and you'll want to go back and see what it is he was doing. On "Boxcutter Emporium, Part 3," you never would have known that "Matt thinks this is some NY radio shit, like Old Dirty Bastard should be on it. I Think Silver Mt. Zion's string section would be much better. We should all assume Matt is tripping. Jeff is still clowning me on some that shit sounds like Pink Floyd. I think it's just nice." Such notes give a human touch to such cold electronic grooves.

Instrumental music isn't always an easy listen, especially when it's of this dense a nature--occasionally the songs feel like incomplete hip-hop numbers--but for the most part Chewing On Glass & Other Miracle Cures is nothing less than a fascinating, compelling listen. If, like me, you've never heard Sixtoo before, you'll probably be intrigued enough to want to hear more, because it's apparent that Sixtoo is one of today's better unknown electronica composers.

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website: http://www.sixtoo.net
Label Website: http://www.ninjatune.net

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