Jon Nelson's audio collages released under the studio name Escape Mechanism are not your average cut-n-paste offerings. He has a knack for introducing a thoughtful, philosophical angle into his editing. The very first recognizable sample from the first Escape Mechanism CD is William S. Burroughs stating "This is the only proof of his existence." Whether he was intending the soundbite to be self-referencing or not, it's hard not to think of the main sample from the first track of this new CD ("stop doing things the same way / stop doing things the way we always have") as referring to this new disc.
Nelson has introduced some subtle differences into the mixes on this album. Nearly every long track on this disc (discounting the short linking tracks) is musical in nature, as opposed to the abstract collages from the first album. There are a couple of real stellar musical pieces here; the obvious standout, "Cycles" (video available at the Escape Mechanism site), is a free-flowing composition based on some talk radio samples (Diane Rehm, I presume?). And "Oh Well" is a minor masterpiece that recalls some of the classic work of Vicki Bennett/People Like Us in its weaving together a handful of samples from classic 1950s rock records (with samples from Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner" dropped effortlessly into the mix).
There are a few missteps (the noisy looping of the track "Whiz Bang" veers too much into Jason Forrest territory), but overall this is a worthy follow-up to the first Escape Mechanism CD. It's been 10 years between the first two Escape Mechanism CDs; hopefully we won't have to wait too long for the next one.
I would also be remiss if I did not single out one track in particular: "The Truth", which to me was one of the funniest inside jokes on the CD. Nelson, a big fan of Bill Cosby's early stand-up albums, stitched together a nearly three minute track composed of the silent bits, the weird sound effects and the random audience laughter from some of The Cos' classic comedy routines (people who know "Chicken Heart" and "Tonsils" by heart will be greatly amused). As a Cosby fan who as a kid tried to puzzle out what exactly was going on during that last silent minute of the "Tonsils" routine, I knew exactly what Nelson was going on about. Message received.http://www.empty-handed.com/archive/2008_11_10.html