Surrounded By Ninjas: Disassociation Association

By: Dennis Cook

Electronic music can often have a disinfected, un-human tang to it, but some gifted hands are able to massage lifeblood into machines, merging technology and flesh & bone personality. Surrounded By Ninjas carry one back to the undulating roots of today's electronica, finding the pulse inside the wires in the same artful way as the switched-on best of Jean-Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, and more contemporary blip manipulators like Morcheeba and Morgan Geist. Disassociation Association (Artdamaged Records) finds the Ninjas - Asher Fulero (Moog, Nord Piano, Ableton Live and more) and Joel Barber (turntables, samples) – stealthily refining their sound, where each piece rolls with a seductive forward motion and skin warming heat. Put more simply, stripping away the references, Disassociation Association is deeply pleasurable music, a bubble bath for your ears that makes the rest of you splash about.

From go this gets your head bobbing like a slightly stoned parakeet. Groove comes in many forms and SBN revels in exploring the vast corridors of rhythm, seasoning each stretch with artful scratching and smartly selected samples. One big aspect they have over many of their peers is a strong musical core. These aren't just randomly selected boops 'n' blinks, these are real musicians who get the value of quality melodies, tone, and phrasing. Mostly instrumental, aside from a bookending pair of shoulda-been-trip-hop hits sung by Minda Stiles, the album flows so smoothly one might miss all the care put into each segment, including subtle, effective guest spots from Matt Butler (djembe), Scott Law (guitar) and Julee Avalone (flute). As Lisa once asked Wendy, "Is the water warm enough?" The answer with Disassociation Association is most assuredly, and one should find much to love inside these computer blue waters.

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