Escape Mechanism (CD)

As if the madness wasn't enough. She said that reading those books would give me the sickness, but I didn't believe. Now my brain is crowded with the sounds of people talking about me, people arguing, people making love... but I'm alone here in the basement, rubbing the stomach of my ceramic Hotei, waiting for the luck to relieve me from my purgatory.

The voices are the worst part of it all. Despite the ear plugs, I still hear them, and I attribute it to two things: the Hawaiian Woodrose seeds I ate in college and Escape Mechanism. Oh, the seeds seemed innocent enough, I read in the Anarchist Cookbook that six seeds had enough LSD for a healthy trip. Indeed, they did, but the gut- wrenching intestinal pain, spontaneous vomiting and loss of bowel control made me unpopular at all the frat parties, thus curtailing my Hawaiian Woodrose Feast to only every weekend. Escape Mechanism was just as innocuous, arriving in my mailbox in a bland- looking envelope (much like the Hawaiian Woodrose Seeds, in fact) from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Despite the fact that I was aware of the pure evil that resides in that town, I tore open the envelope, not realizing that my life had already been irrepairably changed.

Inside, I was confronted with a disc emblazoned with the odd statement: "100% Recycled." The liner notes that confirmed the origin of these frignteningly influential sounds: other music, found sound and samples. "Oh shit," I thought. "We're in Negativland territory again." But what I discovered upon listening was both more and less than Negativland, causing the voices in my head to grow calmorous and agitated.

"Shhh... shhh... "I will wash my hands soon, don't worry," I told the voices while listening to a disc that delighted what was left of myself. Familiar samples, sounds and voices drifted out of a disjointed landscape of sound, then gelled into beats and what Bob, my Music Critic voice would call "songs." Songs, you ask? Well, yes, it's semantics to be sure, but when comparing Escape Mechanism to Negativland, the idea of "song" has a particular meaning. Where Negativland tends to shape music on an abstract and highly political level, using heavy dissonance to emphasize their message, Escape Mechanism shapes songs out of the found sound and music-- elevating it from its uber- geek status to actual listenability. Both bands are leaves on the same gnarled branch of music that hosts other such pioneers as Tape-beatles and Public Works, but provides a listenability that makes it so much easier to plug-in and actually listen to it.

Which, finally, was my downfall. The voices coming through the beats and samples seemed so real that I started to think they were. Soon, I was hearing the songs even when I was far away from any stereo. I could hear the opening lick to the Beatles' "Flying" playing all the time, and I thought Burroughs was still alive and whispering softly into my ear, his clawlike hand fondling my crotch. You want to be just like me, don't you? I'm not talking to you! Cut it out!

- James P. Wisdom