Escape Mechanism

Escape Mechanism is a sonic collage artist who identifies his work as "made from 100-percent recycled culture." He creates word and sound pictures that could send the average copyright lawyer into a litigation frenzy, featuring hundreds of stolen samples and snippets. None of the samples are credited - but a close listen turns up everything from beat comic laureate Lenny Bruce to folk historian Utah Phillips, Steve Martin and plenty of Jerry Falwell. Decipherable tunes are culled from all over the place, as well: Siouxsie and the Banshees, Watermelon Man, Enya and possibly even the Pet Shop Boys.

The result is not so much a collection of songs as abstract stories in a musical format, or absurd tales of hypocrisy and solitude with a beat. Sometimes you can dance to it, and sometimes you can't.

Most of the subject matter is painted with dark colors, but Escape Mechanism has a habit of using the wise words of stand-up comedians to deconstruct life's larger myths. Steve Martin asking us "What if you died and wound up in heaven ... wouldn't that be weird?", once a '70s comedy-album staple, here becomes a more philosophical question - one that demands consideration.

Challenging and unique, the disc takes the listener far beyond an elementary game of "spot the sample." Pillaging pop culture, Escape Mechanism creates pictures of the modern experience - and while they aren't terribly coherent ones, they are fascinating nonetheless.

- Chris Strouth