V/A :: Intelligent Toys (Sutemos, MP3)

669 image 1Intelligent Toys was released on February 29th, a rare day which Sutemos gleefully  claimed as an appropriately special day for their first compilation — the  culmination of a long year’s work to bring their vision to fruition. In addition to snaring a number of unreleased tracks for this release, the fine folks at Sutemos commissioned a number of Dave McKean-esque art pieces of dolls and small children to accompany the record. Each of the fifteen tracks of the compilation capture a facet of the joy which an intelligent toy can bring to an innocent child.

The first flush of innocent love comes from Sleepy Town Manufacture’s “K.a.b.y.n.,” a gently ambient track that captures that same sense of childlike perfection which can be heard in Boards of Canada’s work. Sleepy Town Manufacture is a Russian duo — Anton Lukoyanychev and Alexander Ananyev —  and they are part of the burgeoning invasion of Russian electronica that is making its way into the west. “K.a.b.y.n.” makes me want to welcome them into my home and offer them anything I have in my refrigerator or liquor cabinet. And, while they are heartily enjoying my hospitality, I want to open my heart and show them all the happiness and tenderness which their music inspires in me.

Brandon Reid Huey’s Crashed by Car project contributes “Full Speed Dead,” an ambient ballad for the close of day, for the closing of a lifetime. Huey’s been releasing tracks through the Internet for some time and it’s a wonder he hasn’t been snatched up by some physical label. “Full Speed Dead” is a three minute elegy to all that we could ever lose — loved ones, favorite pets, a secret hiding place in the woods which is destroyed by rampant industrialization, that fragile crush as you realize the last piece of chocolate cake was eaten by someone else — Huey’s tiny song is a crystalline soundtrack for those heartbreaking moments.

Lackluster’s “Thor’s Magic Bath” is a spritely thing, a song of tiny pistons and 669 image 2 cascading water droplets. The analog synthesizer melody wheezes like an old toy, a well-loved squeeze-box that still knows its way around a few memorable ditties. “Thor’s Magic Bath” is the wee song you play when you’re giving your
child a bath in the sink, a thin song that is easy to whistle along to while everyone is splashing in the water. Sovacusa’s “Osloka” pads about the room like a nocturnal dance party for the stuffed animals, plush paws brushing against the polished wood of the dressers and tables. Put the covers over your head and listen to their polyrhythmic dance steps and watch the shadow play of their party in the warm yellow glow of the night-light.

Eesen and Sense both deliver gorgeous tracks filled with light beats and warm ambience, matching the thematic suggestion of the compilation. 3tronik’s “Have a Nice Day” skews itself slightly with more complex IDM rhythms. This is the toy which comes unassembled; this is the 500 piece jigsaw puzzle. There is a Speak ‘n’ Spell voice running through Stud’s “A Popup Will Popup,” a dehumanized operator offering unintelligible directions for you to follow as you attempt to put together one of your child’s new toys.

Skardas’ “Inlti Dangun” is a darker toy, a metal and plastic animatronic creation which plays well with you during the daylight hours but which has a slightly sinister grin on its face when the night slips shadows across its features. I’m an old cynic whose soft interior is being touched quite effectively by a number of these tracks and “Inlti Dangun” appeals to my damaged spirit. Skardas brings a little darkness into the effervescent light of Intelligent Toys.

ML traps a shuffling drum kit for “Ukelangelo” and places it in the same room with an acoustic guitar that is wreathing itself with tiny strings of ambient light. Khonnor dusts his cello with a micro particle layer of glitch and sine waves, and the echoing voices of tiny leprechauns. “Cantelopps” plays like a chamber orchestra piece for the little folk with just a hint of the stiff Irish wind in its notes. The compilation closes with Shnare.sys’ obliquely titled “Nice Shoes Bitch,” a bit of caustic commentary which is off-kilter from the warm and inviting headspace of the song — a piece for synthesizer, piano and sputtering glitch work wherein the slowly evolving melodies serenade a fluttering collection of tiny moths and delicate fairies.

669 image 3 Sutemos alters an old saying of Arther C. Clarke’s to their own end: “There is no band. It’s a simulacrum with a stellar sound system. Nothing you see or hear is real. Sufficiently advanced technology, indistinguishable from magic. Or dreams.” Intelligent Toys rekindles joys of childhood and sustains those who are still caught up in their innocence. These are songs built from experience,
digital creations which have been carefully massaged and groomed and polished to reflect purity, grace and the luminosity of spirit. Intelligent Toys makes magic; this is a record filled with dreams.

Intelligent Toys is OUT NOW and contains tracks by Sleepy Town Manufacture, Crashed by Car, Sense, Lackluster, Eesn, 3tronik, Skardas, Stud, Proswell, Tim Koch, Sovacusa, ML, Khonnor, Bauri, and Shnare.sys.

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