Published Jan 24, 2017Whether it's the product of a big idea the composer is wrestling with, or an arcane piece of tech she jerry-rigged to get exactly the right sound, great electronic works always have the best backstories. Martín Rodriguez's ambient electronic record Radio Therapy fits that description. It offers three pieces, totalling a little less than 50 minutes; each is like sticking your head in an elevator shaft and pressing UP.
The high point of the release is "2N_N3," a piece inspired by Rodriguez's harrowing experience with brain surgery (conscious, no less). The poor man was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour, and the procedure to remove it left him partially paralyzed for a period of time after the operation; searching for a way to play his guitar with only his right hand, Rodriguez pushed radio frequencies through a transducer attached to the guitar. The work features a blend of radio noise and conventional bits of music.
"Couleur d'été" is a tougher listen. Unless vibrato strikes you as endlessly fascinating, you'll be reaching for the skip button. I've sat through it a good half-dozen times and don't ever want to again. The final track — a live recording of the album's title piece — is a welcome relief; think Einstürzende Neubaten on a really good day in 1986. Moody and atmospheric, it's genuinely original.
So yes, this is a recording that will make you think. But as compelling as the backstory is, there is just too little musicality here. Despite the relative strength of tracks one and three, Rodriguez's palette of harsh, metallic sounds zaps this album of any real emotional depth. (Jeunesse Cosmique)