Bogdan Raczynski

My Love I Love (Rephlex)

On Bogdan Raczynski's fifth album, My Love I Love, the Polish-born, American-raised, England-based artist reveals what many fans and critics have suspected all along: that the court jester of experimental electronic music might not be all that funny.

Raczynski's albums have always been about the punch line behind the mu-sic -- his "fuck you" stance being more significant than his productions. After completing his respectable jungle-drenched debut, Boku Mo Wakaran, Raczynski boasted about his two-day completion time, flipping the finger to his more painstaking contemporaries. Ibiza Anthems Vol. 4, his alternative to the cheesy house compilation series, shrink-wrapped five tracks that were far too gritty for its namesake's clubber paradise. On Thinking of You, Raczynski's "tracklisting" was one long run-on sentence with the threatening footnote, "If you don't pay for this [CD], then don't complain when I start making psychedelic trance" (an epithet against the polished, oft-despised dance subgenre). Add Raczynski's angry polyrhythms, bogus press releases, and punk ethos, and you've got a bratty personality that suggests that the process is more important than the content.

For many listeners, My Love I Love might be the talking dog that pushes them over the edge of insanity. Gone are Raczynski's past steroid-fueled drum assaults, replaced with souped-up Casio notes and a voice hungry to cry. There's no clear explanation for the change, either, save that Raczynski now chooses to dub himself "the working man's Julio Iglesias" and suggests this might be his last release. With this new alter ego, however, Raczynski has slipped on his own banana peel: His joke isn't that funny, and he stands pants down, exposing some questionable music.

In typical Raczynski hijinks, each track on My Love I Love shares the same name as the album title. On the standout track six, the recent Björk collaborator wails, "I want you/ I miss you/ I want to make love to you," over cryptic organs that sound like a weepier version of Boards of Canada. The song is sweet at first, but like a zit-faced teenage boy desperate to get laid, Raczynski's words grow less sincere as the track drifts on. The rest of the tunes are best distinguished by varying quantities of accordions, trumpets, and gurgling vocals.

Many listeners might welcome this mood swing. Featuring beatless, stripped-down keyboard hymns and fourth-grade music-class warbling, the more straightforward "love" songs carry a certain innocence that may make you want to hug a teddy bear. But most followers of good experimental music might find Raczynski's role as awkward gigolo, well, ridiculous. With My Love I Love, Raczynski tells an inside joke that most people won't get and others won't want to, leaving those who do to grumble, "Hardy-har."

 
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