Weird Universe is Martino's first widely available release, and it successfully bottles the raucous joys of her live show. It also manages to sound unlike anything she's recorded before. While her core approach remains the same, she's torn out much of the ornamentation. Gone are the dubby cheerleader vocals and Lisa Frank-flavored adorability of her 2011 split 12-inch with Container. All that remains are malfunctioning air-raid sirens, crunchy-ass handclaps and low-end that rumbles like a fleet of monster trucks.
"Rock Salt," "Wet Pet" and "Quizz" are the record's go-to bruisers. Their maximalist pummel belies her roots in Rhode Island's famed underground rock scene (which has always placed emphasis on truly colossal beats). Equally forceful is "Mysterious Prism." Here Martino cranks up the tempo, morphing the nearly eight-minute bopper from video-game bleepage into blurry and buzzing acid mania.
But Weird Universe isn't solely about what has been subtracted; there's evidence of cross-pollination here, too. Several cuts find Martino grafting her grooves to minimal-synthesizer work that feels inspired by her Spectrum Spools labelmates (folks like Driphouse, Three Legged Race and Outer Space). "Night Diamond" still trades in bottom-heaviness, yet its haunted cascades and melodic lead (which sounds not unlike a Theremin imitating bagpipes) give it a hint of the sublime. Something similar can be said of "Houndstooth." Over a slinky, discoid gait (one that calls to mind Italians Do It Better) Martino builds a pitter-patter of synth tones that's as off-kilter as it is mesmerizing. Along with FRAK, Mat Brinkman, VIKI and Mammal, Martino should rightly be hailed as one of the chief architects of technoise. But as Weird Universe clearly demonstrates, she is far more concerned with penetrating the unknown than simply falling back on her reputation.