First, Lou-Lou have a fresh 33-minute CD-R titled Annie's Bitter Gut, which, says leader Ryan Tranum, is based on a sci-fi short story he's been writing. "It's more about love, and the strangeness of love, than it is about the loss of love," he says.
So, the material here is more song-based than on their previous Bad Puppy, but things are still pretty strange. Tranum and his wife, Sarah, sing introspectively over minor-key analog-y ditties tinted a deep shade of maroon (percussionist Alan Gutierrez plays on this record but has since moved to New Orleans). It sounds like the Residents during their more "commercial" phase or Chris & Cosey's gentlest moments. "The Explanation" bears one of those majestic, cyclical Bill Laswell–ian bass lines, but it's contrasted with xylophone or toy-piano plinks and synth emissions that recall Mort Garson's spookier output. "The Cabin" is a morose ballad that seems as if it's being sucked into quicksand. "Chlorine Eyes" plumbs Bügsküll's vein of hallucinogenic, miniaturist songcraft, while the relatively buoyant, quasi-new-wave "The Beam of Light" could be Lou-Lou's hit. One can (weirdly) dream.
Cursed Chimera (Benatos Thompson) brings a more traditional IDM gestalt to his new album, Infinite Caustic Change (on Chinese netlabel Bypass; bp.bai-hua.org). He cites British duo Plaid as an influence, and similarities are apparent. Like that Warp Records artist, Cursed Chimera flaunts a varied palette of sounds and approaches. Infinite Caustic Change starts in surprisingly pretty style (given CC's previous industrial/dubstep productions), brandishing florid melodies above complex rhythms, all of it executed with an acute ear for sound design. Like Plaid's best work, it sounds rich. These tracks come across as if they're being meticulously massaged into being on hardware, but Thompson admits to using plug-ins.
By track 6 of Infinite Caustic Change, "Ghosts," things turn wonky, with the rhythms spazzing out and the synth textures taking on a harsher attitude. "Constant Ghost Fucking" intensifies the noise and increases the chaos, changing the tone dramatically. But "Fellow Spirits" ushers in a more chill, chipper atmosphere; it's tailor-made for soundtracking a moment of resolution in a drama.
With "New York Winter," though, he channels late-'70s Kraftwerk—all glorious, Teutonic melodic pomp and precision beats. "8 Bit Bitch" caps the album with staccato bass bumps and strident synth palpitations. It's as if Cursed Chimera is saying to hell with beauty and deciding to go out with a belligerent jab to your brain.
Lou-Lou perform Thurs March 26 with Pawnshop Boyfriend and Snacks at the Mix, 6006 12th Ave S, 767-0280. Annie's Bitter Gut is available at Wall of Sound Records.