Crunch
1
Musik Aus Strom
2000
B-

all human senses thrive on repetition. With repetition each individual sense can build a familiarity with the stimuli in question. In regards to taste I have been ordering the same cheeseburger from Wendy's for the past two years almost every time I step into the restaurant. The sandwich is built with the disparate elements of meat, lettuce, cheese, ketchup, and mayonnaise. Because I have tasted this combination of elements so many times before I am pleased each time that I bite into the burger and achieve the same amount of satisfaction in taste quality. Each time, though, there are subtle differences in the quality of the sandwich according to the amount of each ingredient added that will influence whether it was a good sandwich or an awful one. Almost all electronic music is built on these same two principles. The use of familiarity through sampled loops of melody and rhythm and the idea of building the music from the bottom up using different elements to create one large experience. It's up to the artist in how they will arrange these elements to make them the most palatable and how to make them interesting enough for the listener to come back for seconds.


On their debut release for Musik Aus Strom, Crunch creates a mélange that is akin to a sandwich. Using synthesized melodic touches, crunchy beats, and a healthy dose of DSP; Crunch has created a good approximation of the Autechre and Funkstorung style of IDM. Each element retains its own flavor until the point at the climax of the song when all sounds are indistinguishable and merely make music, rather than sound. Crunch frequently achieves this goal of making the sum larger than its parts, but also, at times, fails. Luckily the succeed very well on tracks such as Crumb and Toe Tac Tic with the failures falling few and far between.


On Crumb, Crunch introduces a simple melody counterpointed immediately by a static-like underpinning. Soon the bass drum introduces the beat while the bass line of the synthesizer begins to counterpoint the original melodic line from the beginning. Elements fade in and out, while the original melody continues to plod along. Much like the experience of eating a sandwich, certain constants in Crumb remain throughout the song, while amenities such as synthesizer stabs echo the flourishes given to a sandwich by mayonnaise and ketchup.


With Toe Tac Tic, a different construction is used to achieve nearly the same purpose. The main difference is the feel of the piece, which has beat reminiscent of hip hop and includes cut up hip hop lyrics recalling Autechre's "ccec" off of EP7 and Prefuse73's recent work. The melody and harmony are simple and relegated to the back of the mix. This makes the main meat of the piece the powerful bass line and drum, complemented by the unintelligible lyricism of the MC.


It's really no wonder that Crunch sounds similar to Funkstorung, because Crunch records on Musik Aus Strom, the label headed by the two members of the group. As stated in the press release given by the label, "Crunch refuses till today to give me any infos. I don't know how many people Crunch are, what their (his/her) name(s) are/is, I even don't know where Crunch is from (although the tape was posted in London)." Despite the German inflected English of the press release, it is clear that Crunch is a mysterious group, about which nothing is known. This has begged the obvious speculation that Crunch is either Funkstorung or Autechre in disguise, but it seems as though, for now, Crunch is regarded as an entity unto itself with its own style, as derivative as it may be.


As with any sandwich, some bites are better than others; but overall this sandwich succeeds in satiating my hunger for a while. I won't be searching the internet for news of another release out of the MAS label or from Autechre. Taking into account that Crunch has traveled down a road that most fear to tread and few ever master; this debut album for the Musik Aus Strom label is an amazing start. It has been reported that some of the tracks included on the album are three years old, as well. If that is truly the case, one can only wonder where Crunch has gone from this starting point and this particular reviewer is interested to hear their next release, whether it sounds like Appetite for Disctruction or Confield.


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