After appearing on nearly a dozen different labels since his first record in 2005, Berlin-via-Detroit artist Kris Wadsworth lands on Beriln's Get Physical for his debut album, Life and Death. He first worked with M.A.N.D.Y.'s imprint in 2011 with the adventurous and old school-flavored It's Time. Life and Death is much less playful and engaging than that EP, despite the sexed-up themes running through it.
Both the spoken-word "Alienated American" intro and the nine-minute-long "Definition Of" channel Aphex Twin's seminal "Didgeridoo" (minus the frenzied drum parts), but there is something sterile about the way the tracks wander about. You have to wait for "Girl Talk" and "Gutter Pimp," with their respective refrains "I like fucking" and "I just want to fuck you, honey," to feel truly engaged. These songs are without a doubt the album's two highlights, mostly because they have the same carefree attitude that made It's Time so physically engaging. "Ivory 313," a collaboration with fellow oddball Jimmy Edgar, feels sadly restrained: both producers keep a weirdly low profile, never allowing their in-your-face personalities to take center stage.
The album's second half is, to say the least, even more puzzling. Sure, "Showtime" is bold with its hints of acid-jazz, but it doesn't really prepare you for "666" and "The Boring People," both of which flirt with drum & bass: an unusual look for a Get Physical release, and a distracting one too. "Koffein" and "Famous Anus," on the other hand, are just trivial exercises in synthetic drones that are too short to be really absorbing. These stylistic diversions are redeemed somewhat by the electro-fied title track that serves as the album's closer, a fitting but abrupt end to a somewhat misleading sequence.
Around the same time this album was released last November, Wadsworth recorded a podcast for Tissue Magazine, whose blend of experimental noises, rockabilly, '80s AM pop, old-school hip-hop, first-wave electro and radio-host rants was compelling. It's a shame Life and Death couldn't bring together diverging impulses with the same ease and wit.
Tracklist: Kris Wadsworth – Life and Death01. Alienated American
02. Definition Of
04. Fan Mail (Revisited)
05. Girl Talk
06. Ivory 313 feat. Jimmy Edgar
07. Gutter Pimp
09. Famous Anus
11. The Boring People
12. Life and Death
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