Rafter: Sex, Death, Cassette

By: Josh Potter

A slogan in the disc's liner notes might say it all: "4-track power forever, multiplied by computer power = (star)." With his second release in a year (in the wake of last March's Music For Total Chickens), not only is Rafter Roberts prolific, he's got his neon '90s kitsch-pop routine down to a science. Sex, Death, Cassette (Asthmatic Kitty) is a 19-track sketchbook of musical ideas the dude has somehow had time to put together between his work with the Fiery Furnaces, Sufjan Stevens, Castanets, The Rapture and countless others.

It's the kind of disc you can put on repeat, listen to for hours, and only remember the disc has been cycling on about the sixth go-round. On tracks like "How To and Why," recognizable elements (fuzz, over-mixed drums, cheap electronics, glockenspiel) threaten to pin him into a trite corner of indie lo-fi-dom, but the album moves at the rate of someone channel-surfing satellite radio (the longest track clocks in at 3:12). Before you know it you've globe-trotted off to the something like the lounge bossa nova of "Breeze." Brief vignettes of jangly folk and automotive static link touchstone tracks like "zzzpenchant," a new-wave stomp with breathy vocals and melodic horns over an angular time signature, and "Love Time Now Please," a Talking Heads-style Afro-lilt complete with marimba and lush horns. True to its title, this one runs on nostalgia for the days when all you needed was a boombox with an FM tuner, a tape deck and a few blank Maxells.

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[Published on: 2/3/08]

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