Just when you thought those Brits couldn't make us feel more inferior, they up the stakes in electronic music once again. For the past decade, Richard James (the mastermind behind Aphex Twin who seems to be basking in 10-minute standing ovations from his fellow countrymen these days) and Grant Wilson-Claridge have been putting out the cunningly conceptual Braindance releases on their Rephlex label, which has been home to names like Squarepusher and µ-Ziq. James and Wilson-Claridge jokingly call the Braindance aesthetic "a way of life," which seems to encompass releasing records that either confuse or inspire new modes of thinking in the wild frontier of electronic music.

To celebrate their 10-year anniversary and over 100 releases, last year Rephlex put out a 16-track compilation of back catalogue releases called The Braindance Coincidence, and set up an accompanying tour of Rephlex artists. The album moves through the avant-garde and the ordinary, starting with the tongue-in-cheek Esquivel-meets-David-Lynch bossa nova "Journey" by the Gentle People. The album then twists and turns though electrified breakbeats, techy house, mocking vocoders, drum 'n' bass hiccups, and downtempo that's twisted and psychedelic enough to make Syd Barrett wish he owned an Akai MPC sampler. Other standout tracks include "Rewind" by Cyclob, which replicates an old-school hiphop break with vocals that sound like Stephen Hawking bringing his mic skills to another level behind an R2-D2 scratch sample. Baby Ford gives proof that even with minimal tracks, a handful of clever beats and breaks, and a serpentine 303 acid line, you can still get the job done and then some. The closing track, "Afternoon Girl" by Ovuca, stutters and pulses along in an atmospheric, narcotic haze with an indecipherable female vocal that left me wanting more. I doubt they'll be bumping any of these tracks at Polly Esther's anytime soon. Braindance Coincidence, named the number-one compilation of the year by NME, is a great starting point to see what's going on in the world of experimental electronic music.

The Braindance Tour will be coming through Seattle with live P.A. sets from DMX Crew, Ovuca, and Bogdan Raczynski, as well as a DJ set from Cyclob. It'll be interesting to see how these artists pan out in a live setting, but even an off experimental set is usually more fulfilling than your less-than-average rock band "experimenting" with 20-minute guitar solos.

Braindance Tour featuring Cyclob, DMX Crew, Ovuca, and Bogdan Raczynski, Wed May 29 at I-Spy, 1921 Fifth Ave, 374-9492.


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