Bogdan Raczynski
My Love I Love
Rephlex
2001
C+

i braced myself mentally for this release. I knew that previous Raczysnki releases were drill 'n bass influenced schizophrenia. I knew that listening to Raczysnki for extended periods of time could give me a migraine trying to follow individual drum patterns. But I also knew that every release that he has put out, Raczysnki has always been, at the very least, interesting. On his later efforts Raczysnki had introduced some more varied instrumentation to complement the synthesizer/beat combination, but on his latest release Raczysnki tops all of this. The main instruments used are accordion, trumpet, synthesizer, and, on less than a quarter of the songs, drums. Going into listening to this album with this knowledge I was ready for just about anything. And then I heard the album. All I could say after first listen was "Huh?"


The album starts off with the track "My Love I Love," (all tracks go under this name, in fact) an ambient number that rolled right off my back. I merely thought that Raczysnki was warming the crowd up for the inevitable madness to come. But no madness followed. Instead I was treated to little beat innovation, more live instrumentation than Raczysnki has ever, presumably, used before, and off key warbling by the artist himself. Most tracks do not feature lyrics, however, when they do they are all related to love and loss. Raczysnki's horrid singing is covered up by the fact that it is incredibly heartfelt. While the lyrics are trite, at times, they come so rarely that they are going to be greeted with a large amount of scrutiny. The personal standout track for me is track 14. Its simple melodic line is incredibly catchy, but is played on a keyboard that appears to be on the edge of breakdown. This juxtaposition of beautiful and close to destruction is at the heart of "My Love I Love." Raczysnki revels in the constant give and take of sheer calculated beauty and the unnatural beauty of his own voice. It's almost impossible to categorize this release, so I won't bother trying. I would recommend, however, previewing the album online or in a record store, before you buy it.


In a related note, I've recently rediscovered the joy of Nintendo. Not Nintendo 64, mind you. The original 8 bit Nintendo. I've begun to build up teams that I've started on Baseball Stars, went through seasons undefeated in Tecmo Super Bowl, and unlocked the white mushroom houses in Super Mario 3. Another activity that I've started up, as well, is a dodgeball club. The age old grade school game that has launched a thousand kids to the depths of their self esteem when picked last and then immediately to the nurse's office when they hit in the head by kids larger and more athletic. These two different reaches for childhood memories can be divided into two camps, in my mind. Nintendo is mostly an ironic activity. It's so retro, that it's new again. On the other hand, dodgeball is an activity that I engage in because I love to run around and have fun. No irony involved, mainly because any chance of irony is dispelled when I peg someone in the head or have the same done to me. This is how Bogdan Raczysnki's new album strikes me. It is either a supremely ironic statement, meant as a piss take on all of his unsuspecting fans or it is the most emotional and heartfelt record that he was capable of making. As much as I want to believe that it's the latter, I have to wonder at times that the former is not the foremost idea on his mind in making these songs. I will hedge and say that it is probably a combination of the two. Raczynski's own words yield no definitive proof either way when he says that this album should evoke "soft, pink, warm nights spent cuddling only to get in a fight as you stumble over words which you shouldn't have said, and why should you have, you didn't mean them...(this album) contains only the tracks which are most likely to induce sobbing."


In either case, it remains one of the more interesting career moves and records made by an IDM artist in a long time and deserves to be respected for that reason alone. Whether this turns out to be the oddball in Raczysnki's catalogue remains to be seen.


Reviewed by: Todd Burns
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01
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