Hippos In Tanks
While visual artists have been quick to adapt to the internet's Babel of information, musicians have been slow to comment directly on the vast digital buzz. Hippos In Tanks, as a label, has admirably pushed this conversation forwards while also displaying a fierce devotion to the traditional mediums of CD and vInyl. James Ferraro's "Farside Virtual" (Hippos In Tanks, 2011) was seen as a comment on emerging personality types in the face of rampant technoconsumerism, but in retrospect, can be seen as Ferraro's first step out of the cassette underground into sleeker rnb/hip-hop influenced production Gatekeeper's "Exo" had them abandoning the Carpenter-esque VHS aesthetics of their previous releases, even hiring internet artist Tabor Robak to create a playable game for reach song. The most successful effort in creating a musical analog to endless internet-meme driven communication is ADR's "Chunky Monkey".
The record succeeds first and foremost because Aaron David Ross (1/2 of the Gatekeeper) is a completely badass producer. I woudn't be suprised if legitimate pop production is in his future based off of the seemingly effortless genre tourism on display here. Opener "Casual Friday" places samples of sitcom saxaphones against a loping 303 and eerie processed piano that could be lifted from a Prologue release. "Sumo" seems to be an oblique comment on 90s boom-bap, while "What It Takes" could be lifted from a sinister Sprite commercial. "Stray Dog Strut" could be seen as ADR's reading of Sly and Robbie digidub, but in this tune, the comment on internet culture is palpable. In the midst of innocuous and expertly produced genre-exercises, ADR is prone to interrupt with unsettling samples (e.g. a screaming chorus of roller coaster riders) to fray the edges. The effect has an uncanny resemblance to cruising through life with 15 tabs open.