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Cex, "Exotical Privates"

Coming in under the wire at the end of the year is this flawless EP from Rjyan Kidwell. While Sketchi on Temporary Residence was the most recently released full-length album by Cex, Exotical Privates is linked to his last release on Automation, last year's fantastic and underrated Actual Fucking with Nice Nice. Billed as remixes from that LP this EP stands on its own perfectly well.


This is the definition of a perfect Extended Play single: four songs clock in at exactly half an hour, each of them completely different tunes (these aren't mildly varied versions of the same thing over and over again). The songs themselves are catchy hybrids of sampled sounds, sampled music, and original music, bound together by enticing rhythms, named after Kidwell-relevant geographic locations just like the compositions on Actual Fucking.

The pretty melodies evolve from bird sounds to synth melodies to guitar playing on the seven+ minute opener, "Bolton Hill." This sort of sampling mixed with actual playing is the stuff we dreamt of back in 1991 when thinking about where 808 State could go after Ex:El or where Orbital could go following Snivilisation. The nearly seven minute follower, "Hamilton," utilizes various sampled Kate Bush warbles on top of playing and layering of other sampled melodies. What Kidwell has proven here is his ability as an assemblist to master the all important hook despite the Frankenstein-like sewing together of existing parts. Every piece has that certain something that uncontrollably draws the listeners into the tune.It is a talent once reserved for Kieran Hebden of Four Tet, but unused now that he has put that phase on indefinite hiatus while he pursues more improvisational paths.

"Charles Village" is a slower paced hypnotic treat with digitally deconstructed non-western vocal sampling in front of a big beat, clocking in over nine minutes but over in the blink of an eye while the closer, "Cocceesville," is an upbeat jam with a relentless dancefloor beat, melodic orchestral loops, and a mutated melody. It picks up the pace and leaves us off in a great upbeat mood.

The claim of versatility is verifiable: all these songs can work excellent either clubs, on the radio, in the car, while working, or on headphones. What can't be described is how great these melodies actually work. One of the downsides to the ease of recording music and mass distribution over the Internet and independent labels popping up all over the place is that more people can make records yet so few can construct excellent melodies and music that warrants permanence in a collection. Kidwell has indeed transcended that.