At Home With the Groovebox (Grand Royal)

At Home With the Groovebox (Grand Royal)

Record Reviews

At Home With the Groovebox

(Grand Royal)

Graphic design/rock merchandise mavens Tannis Root and the gang at Grand Royal do the put-a-dozen-monkeys-in-a-room-for-100-years concept one better, offering this compilation of electronic meanderings by artists using a Roland MC-505 Groovebox, an eight-track synthesizer housing all the vintage tweets and chirps of the noble 808 and 909 drum- and 303 bass-machines. And just like evolution, the humans kick some monkey butt. The standouts come from synth godfathers Jean Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley, the team behind the legendary "Baroque Hoedown" electronic standard, which served as the musical bed for three decades of Disneyland and Walt Disney World Main Street Electrical Parade themes. Perrey lends a line from his elegant hootenanny about halfway through the disc's first track, a Norman Cook-y butt-shaker called "Groovy Leprechauns," while Kingsley morphs Seventies electro-techno classic "Popcorn" into an Afro-desiatic slow-groove R&B bedroom number. Some acts, like Buffalo Daughter and Cibo Matto throb within their comfort zones, offering songs that would sound right at home on any of their great albums. Beck's "Boyz" is so early-Eighties that it earns its "Z," while Sonic Youth's "Campfire," sounds like a virtual campfire. Air, likewise, sounds just like Air on the interplanetary "Planet Vega," but so does John (from Tortoise) McEntire's "J.I.H.A.D.," for that matter. Will Oldham gives Robert Wyatt a tonk in the gorgeous, almost listless hymnal "Today I Started Celebrating Again," while Pavement's smart-ass ode to slackers and karaoke, "Robyn Turns 26," wouldn't be a bad direction should the indie standard-bearers ever want to go light rail on their asphalt. The ultimate ode to the circuit age, however, is Bis' piss-smart "Oh My," which borders on cheesy product placement with its exclamation, "Oh my! An MC-505!" while humped up on a "Me So Horny" 2 Live backbeat. The mishmash works well as a unit, not surprisingly, since the one-machine limit allows the necessary hegemony to make even such disparate elements seem part of a whole.

****

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Music Reviews
Fall Platters
Jeff Lofton
Jericho (Record Review)

Michael Toland, Nov. 29, 2019

Texas Platters
Golden Dawn Arkestra
Darkness Falls on the Edge of Time (Record Review)

Rick Weaver, Sept. 20, 2019

More by Kate X Messer
The Gay Place: It's Aliiive!
It's Aliiive!
You can't keep a Gay Place down; just ask Sarah Marloff

Jan. 20, 2016

Gay Place: I'm Not Gonna Miss You
Gay Place: I'm Not Gonna Miss You
K(X) THX BYE

Jan. 15, 2016

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle