Central Hug/ Friend Army/Fractal Dunes (And the Dreams That Resulted) CD - Discos Mariscos

Emporer X continue to baffle, albeit on a slightly higher plain of paranoia than their debut album (the one with a much-shorter title). Chad Matheny, the brain trust behind the anything-but-Malcom X, still can't sing, and he still has a huge problem choking off his instincts. The difference between Central Hug and Matheny's debut as Emperor X is the backing music, which has progressed quite nicely from blueprints to full-fledged torrents of squiggly synths, Guided by Voices no-fi riffs and all sorts of digital manipulation. Matheny still has a long way to go before he becomes the next Russian Futurist, but he's off to - if nothing else - a rousing start with two interesting albums in two years. (Grant Purdum)



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