Magnétophone’s brand of analog, glitch-textured electronica falls from the same tree as that of Aphex Twin, Autechre, and every other artist dabbling in IDM. As such, much of the music on here is completely interchangeable with those aforementioned artists. Play any of the cuts on Come on the Phone for someone and tell them it’s a long-lost Autechre b‑side and they’d probably believe you. So, if you take that on its own terms and are okay with it, you’re still left with 4 tracks of pretty darn good IDM. Magnétophone certainly breaks no new ground with these 4 songs, each of which cops Autechre’s brand of electronic gurgling almost as well as Autechre does.
The most impressive track on here is the title track. It starts off with what sounds metallic balls bouncing up and down a basketball court, following some odd rhythm that’s barely discernible. Or if that image doesn’t work, imagine that Volkswagen Jetta commercial where everyone’s in synch. Just replace that city street with a robotic assembly line. However, after about four minutes of this, the cacophony gives way to icy electronic textures and sweeping ambience. It’s this part of Magnétophone’s music that I find the most interesting, when it shies away from Autechre’s established brand of architectural ambience and embraces warmer atmospherics. This can also be heard on “Lubeecha” which layers warm analog synths over a pulsing bass tone, the end result sounding like a modem sending its last dying burst of data rendered in slow motion.
I walk away from this EP with two thoughts. First of all, Magnétophone knows what they’re doing and they do it quite well. Secondly, this means that, unless they find a way to shake things up, they will always have the danger of being compared and lost in a crowd populated by the likes of Autechre, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Mouse on Mars, and everyone else who has an innate fascination with damaged drum programming, complex sonic collages, and all other sorts of aural flotsam and jetsam.