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Various Artists 

The Only Blip-Hop Record You Will Ever Need, Vol. 1 (Luaka Bop)

Perhaps the most onomatopoeic genre description in existence, "blip-hop" describes the squiggles and squeaks adventurous electronic outfits use to communicate. In the hands of rhythm-minded DJs, these sounds can be pounded into patterns, creating water-drop-steady beats. Basically, said musicians become machines, speaking in a computer-derived language that becomes casual and conversational with practice. These aren't cold, unfeeling androids, but listeners can comprehend the subtle emotional shifts and unique industrial humor only if they agree to surrender their own reliance on verbal cues and pay rapt attention to the stories spun by these erratic squawks and squirts, sputters and hisses.

Such understanding requires concentration, which means this "dance music" is best enjoyed as mental rather than physical exercise. Groups such as Pole and Schneider TM produce perfect background music -- songs that can subtly massage listeners while they engage in other activities, then stimulate their fantasies as they relax, meditate, or drift off to sleep. Excellent in almost every way, from its 13 mind-blowing tracks to label owner David Byrne's exhaustive liner notes, the album's only flaw is its title: This collection should inspire countless blip-hop shopping sprees.

More by Andrew Miller


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