From its inception, Editions Mego's Spectrum Spools imprint has been anything but predictable, releasing everything from gnarled noise and neo-kosmische to post-techno and Italian prog. But even that assortment is little preparation for Plvs Vltra's Parthenon, as its experiments in pop bubblegum mark a wholly new step for the label.
Plvs Vltra is the project of Toko Yasuda, an artist who's been involved with several indie-friendly groups, not least among them Blonde Redhead and Enon. Although an electronic record at its core, Parthenon is more about pop songs than the label's trademark experimentalism. The sound on offer is a sort of style-mishmash dance-pop that seems almost a typically Japanese take—it finds easy association with an array of movements and artists from the last two decades, from Shibuya-Kei to Pixeltan. At the same time, it slots in nicely next to the contemporary likes of Heatsick (especially on the low-slung funk of the title track) and 100% Silk in how it clearly doesn't take itself too seriously.
While retro-leaning, Parthenon finds Yasuda all over the map. "Sunkissed" goes for dreamily lethargic, Balearic-leaning downtempo, with a saxophone even emerging at one point. The rolling "Fender Benderz," on the other hand, has a kind of urban freneticism that recalls Out Hud. It really comes to a head in its final section, as Yasuda's stretched moan echoes out over a hyperactive landscape.
If anything dissolves the disparities between these tracks, it's their underlying sample patchworks—which range from telephone sounds to animal noises to a spoken passage about the "north wind"—and Yasuda's alternatively unintelligible and quirky lyrics. Her voice is very fey and accented, but "Fender Benderz" may or may not semi-rhyme "Krispy Kreme" with "whiskey Irish cream," and the chorus of "Parthenon" is the puzzling, "you are the one that I'm thinking of, Parthenon." On some level these lines must make sense to Yasuda or anyone with a lyric sheet, but as they are, they contribute a lot to the record's addictive jumble. "Sweet Tooth" may stutter and step like a robot on meth, but regardless of its idiosyncratic interior or what she's actually singing, it's ludicrously catchy, and a perfect hallmark for such a confusingly infectious record.