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Forcefeed (409)

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Let's face it, the 409 collective's mission statement -- "fusing form with function, idea with object, signal with noise" -- sounds like a slogan from an Ikea ad. Thankfully, though, 409 has packed a lot more substance into this compilation of minimal electronic music than the Swedish put into their scrawny, post-modern home furnishings.

Matt Mercer makes two of the meatiest contributions under the name SYSTM. Both "Desperate Measures" and "Spill" mine the post-everything territory of Plaid, laying down hip-hop beats and stuttering digital synth decay that recede at just the right moments. This enables Mercer's serene piano melodies to emerge with maximum soulful impact. On "Couch," "Neckrem," and "Sounds From the Bedroom," Dan Merk strikes a similarly satisfying balance between off-kilter dissonance and soothing microtonal ambiance. All told, Forcefeed does a remarkable job of plotting its own narrative, keeping the listener engaged in the shifting sonic story until midway through the disc, when the cuts begin to sag -- right along with listeners' attention spans.

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