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'Sound On Sound' is full of contradictions, which is of course what makes it great: the bass is bouncy, game for a groove, but it's buried under lo-fi production and often dissonant arrangements on electronics and guitars. Meanwhile, the mysterious figure behind it all -- Andre de Saint-Obin -- sings in a baritone that suggests he'd rather be in the world's most despondent post-punk band than here. Weirdly enough, all of these sounds are credited to Saint-Obin, who played pretty much every component of the record. It all synthesises suprisingly well

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  • / LP + CD on Korm Plastics
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Sound On Sound by Andre de Saint-Obin
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9/10 ReviewBot300 Staff review, 10 October 2014

This reissue of Andre De Saint-Obin's obscure 1982 cassette release 'Sound On Sound' has been a long time coming. The artist proved elusive, and even after tracking him down it's taken three years for this album to finally make it to wax, partly because of the difficulties in restoring the source cassettes, and partly "because of the free-spirit nature Andre is these days". Named after the primitive looping technology with which it was created (and not the famed monthly music tech journal which wouldn't exist for another three years), Saint-Obin constructed these strange lo-fi post-punk concoctions with heavily reverbed drum machines and harsh metallic-sounding guitar tones with impressive effects.

Opener 'Introduction' eases us in with a gradually building loopscape of scratchy guitar and ominous synths before things start getting seriously dark on the next couple of tracks, with robotically manipulated monotone vocals, Suicide-ish monotonous beats and staccato blasts of noisy guitar. The latter of the two 'Dance Till I Die' has some wicked layered guitar shred breakdowns which are gleefully grotesque and matched by his snotty and nihilistic vocal delivery. "Ha ha", he chuckles deadpan after one such micro-workout. 'Womans Talk' on this side is also worth a mention, a cheeky instrumental miniature with funkily booming bass and a wobbly string-scratching guitar line.

The quality doesn't let up on side B either. The dreamlike boy-girl back and forth on 'Is It A Cop?' has shades of early Sonic Youth, then 'Hey You' and 'I Got Plopmusic' have a much dinkier and lighthearted feel with fast paced beats, economical arrangements and awkward pop hooks, before things head swiftly back to the dark side for the unsurprisingly oppressive 'Suicide' and 'Desolation'. Closer #13 is interesting too, skittish electronic beats and horror movie synths and chorussy funk bass puttering along in a stalkerish swirl. Despite working within the limitations of his equipment, this is a really charming, imaginative and varied collection that's totally worthy of the reissue treatment.


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