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A Million Microphones

Wednesday, Aug 23 2006
Is it possible to talk about a band like Supersystem without invoking the term “dancepunk”? Probably not, given its penchant for programmed beats and heavy synthesizer usage, interspersed with throbbing basslines and spindly guitar licks: essential ingredients of the genre. But the group formerly known as El Guapo doesn’t follow the rules exactly on its second effort for Touch and Go, as evidenced by an intense focus on melody and a world-music tinge to these beats — check out Rafael Cohen’s Graceland-style guitar riffs. In fact, the album’s best moments come when the System strays farthest from convention, eschewing straight 4/4 rhythms and electronic burbles for syncopated arrangements. The harps of “Eagles Fleeing Eyries” evoke Björk over disco bass and live drums, while the band toys with dancehall riddims on the pulsating “The Only Way It’s Ever Been Done,” and fully engage electro on “Earth Body Air.” “Joy,” one of the record’s best tracks, is the Supersystem version of electronic folk, as bass player/vocalist Justin Destroyer weaves a simple lyrical melody into an infectious refrain. What separates Supersystem from !!!, the late Out Hud, and the sorry Radio 4 is its eclectic take on the marriage of dance and punk, elevating the beats beyond the dancefloor.

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Jonah Flicker


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