The Mitgang Audio
The View from Your New Home
2003
C



according to the press release from Suction Records, Ray Sweeten, the single disco lunatic behind the Mitgang Audio, claims to have been heavily influenced by Wendy Carlos, an electronic artist responsible, among other things, for the brilliant soundtrack to The Clockwork Orange. Unfortunately, on his debut album, The View from Your New Home, Sweeten seems intent on foregoing Carlos’s filthy-droog paranoia and setting up the dancefloor for the John Badham double-feature. Sliding from Saturday Night Fever to Short Circuit in one bionic, discoballing pulse, he prods you to rip up the seats from their berths and bear them through the exits; to watch as you dance the midnight-polyester fantastic. His sound is so-past-it’s-distant in a way that makes you fear for the future. Relying far too much on thick, warbling vocoders and reminders of the flooded neon rave scene, this adventure forgets itself in the mad-rush of progress before you have time to.

“Minor Causes” bleeps and trembles straight through the Jetsons’ disco. Its saccharine tone fails to show any forward movement that could burn off those sugar calories. Instead, it bounces in front of your eyes until it ends: a super-ball momentum that only captivates for so long.

Still bumping, “Soldato” reminds us that vocoders know no language-barriers. Sweeten sings in Italian through distorted machinery along an arctic-twilight bed of synths. I imagine this working with Fellini cut in Technicolor glam, still so wondrously decadent but empty with the forced gleam that color brings.

With the whiplash beat and circling synth tones of “Binary Life,” Mitgang Audio induces E-flashbacks across the world. Hissing stop-gaps and an interstellar siren fire at you Tron-style as Sweeten sings “We are tired of Serious Things”—through that hideous vocoder, you can’t help but believe him.

Yet when Sweeten finally puts his vocals aside, he creates gorgeous, contemplative soundscapes. Inhabiting the dark side of his lunar dance fantasies, “The Escape” is a Baroque masterpiece that plays like a Bach sonata filtered through millions of miles of airless space. Opening with creeping electronic static, the lithe synth tones finally give us our first hint of his affection for Carlos. This might just as easily have introduced Clockwork Orange’s return-from-prison scene. On the title track, humming synths and twinkling bells toll softly under the skin, gaining momentum as they spread across the song’s belly and close the album on its most dazzling note.

Unfortunately, these ruminative breaks survive only as brief respite among the night-spot roar. The sheer mass of his dance songs pounds them out of the mix. With a better balance between introspective escape and the cardiac hurl of disco songs, the Mitgang Audio might make an album that sustains the listener throughout. Until the next album, anyone aware of John Badham’s home number might give him a holler. If Number Five gets mixed up with disco-hall grifters and icy, coked-up blondes, there’s a sweet Short Circuit 3 soundtrack in the making. I, for one, hope Steve Guttenberg’s available.
Reviewed by: Derek Miller
Reviewed on: 2004-01-19
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