Freight Elevator Quartet Becoming Transparent

Bold, beautiful, daring and different, the Freight Elevator Quartet is very much a sum of their parts. At once academics, junglists, classical musicians and punk rockers, the New York foursome embody the spirit of that city's infamous no wave period in classical, orchestral electronic form. They also recall early 4AD, infant Dead Can Dance and Cocteau Twins, in particular, and the collaborations between Tom Cora and the Ex. Becoming Transparent is the fourth album in as many years for the Quartet, following on the heels of last year's critically adored collaboration with DJ Spooky, File Under Futurism. I don't know how I've lived without them. The delicate "Transparent" welcomes us as Rachael Finn's gorgeous cello couples with a low-riding vocal, both blending with acoustic guitar, didgeridoo and electronic blips and bloops. "So Fragile" is just that - airy, abstract, breezy yet not light. The thick, dubby breakbeats of "Transform/ Disappear" offers another perspective while "Downtime is Becoming Less of an Option" simply blows away any potential preconceived notions. Here, it becomes clear that the Quartet is capable of making anything their own, blending organic with intense electronics, delicacy with tough edges. "Downtime..." is frantic, rich drum & bass where strings hold court, the bass sings and sounds morph repeatedly - think Red Snapper meets Ryuchi Sakamoto. Interestingly enough, the nosier the Quartet gets, the richer they become. The unwavering "Svengali" is filled with gritty distortion and phat beats yet, with guest vocalist Tiny Diva, is so soulful it hurts. "Exasperation" embodies a musical growl. Featuring an intense duet between cello and vocalist, fragmented beats and a wicked, slithering bass; this conjures a meeting between Breakbeat Era and the Poison Girls. Wow! (Caipirinha)