[cover art]ARTIST: PAGODA SOUND SYSTEM
TITLE / format : From Pagoda Studios - CD
WEBSITE:
LABEL: Hot Plate Records, Box 1265, Lakewood, CA 90714

REVIEWER:
GMT

When I first popped this one in, I really liked it. DJ Shadow meets Jah Wobble, I thought. However, on the one hand I am sort of a sucker for sound collage, and on the other, I don't really listen to all that much of it. So I'm not sure if my appreciation was based on ignorance or inspiration.
My problem is, how to judge such constructions? Is merely interesting good enough, or should I be looking for more traditional standards, such as meaning, emotional resonance, or even catchiness?
Pagoda Sound System certainly passes the interesting test. The samples and sounds are blended into intriguing constructs. Some of these bear repeated listenings, although others do not. On the other tests, it is only a partial success, though.
Some of the cuts, like "Out of Control" and "Aggro Dub Version" approach being something like standard songs. By this, I mean the vocal samples function as lyrics, and, more important, the music complements and amplifies the sentiments of the words. These cuts I can listen to repeatedly, and continue to enjoy.
Other cuts, however, never raise above the level of experiments. Worse, after a few spins, the most blatant samples ("I'm sure the animal psychologists will want to save this one for experiments") begin to just sound repetitious; and music tends towards the flat and emotionless.
Only partial success is inherent in the nature of experiments. When one r eaches the point where everything works, the experiment is over. I hope Pagoda continues to experiment, taking the successes here into even newer territory.


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