Tarwater Animals, Suns & Atoms

Since 1996, the German duo of Ronald Lippok (also of To Rococo Rot) and Brenard Jestram have been honing their unique breed of electronic pop as Tarwater. As a follow-up to last year's enticing Silur outing, Animals, Suns & Atoms stays true to form, driven by warm organic samples and beats. The spoken word vocals are almost Fall-like with their deadpan edge, while the dubbed-up melodic loops inspire the most inviting of grooves. Guitar lines and bass riffs add texture to these visceral songs, which belie their sample-based construction. A wide variety of instrumentation, percussion, orchestration, keyboards, voices and analogue squelch intermingle while maintaining a spare, calming quality. The album's artful pop sense is reminiscent of '80s post-punk with tastes of PiL and the dark ambience of Joy Division, particularly on "At Low Frequency." "Seven Ways To Fake A Perfect Skin" uses harpsichord and a '60s pop motif to sculpt one of the album's prettiest songs. The standout, however, is "Noon," which includes the soothing voice of Justine Electra as a beautiful foil to the rugged sonic surroundings. This fine track culminates in a flurry of percussion and jazzy sitar. For Tarwater, their use of electronic means steers clear of anything cold and sterile, instead focusing on the art of repetition to design exquisite hypnotic pop. (Kitty Yo)