Oh Astro

Champions of Wonder (Illegal Art)

Viva subterfuge and theft that doesn't harm anybody who doesn't deserve it. But holy Girl Talk, Batman; at a certain point, one gets the sense that powerful music-biz suits aren't the only folks falling prey to sample-happy activist-composers. To be more concise: If you simply must taunt copyright lawyers, flip those pilfered sonic bites into something way compelling.

Porest definitely groks this, and Jane "Oh Astro" Dowe used to as well. On 2005's Hello World, the Illinois sound artist and her "customized software" chopped and caramelized hip-hop, gospel, pop, and other not-quite-familiar source material into a hyperactive, funky-fresh brand of IDM. Champions of Wonder — on which Dowe's husband, Hank Hofler, joins her — suffers in comparison. Too often here they harpoon huge targets, allowing their catches to overshadow their remixing savvy. Sure, "Hello Fugi Boy" packs a rolling house-music punch, but the teasing prechorus sample of Lionel Richie's immortal "Hello" that keeps surfacing is distracting. "Candy Sun Smiles" — a wholesale gank of Electronic's "Getting Away with It," har har — is even more shameless a stunt. Oh Astro does cleverly titillate with "Xanadu," twisting, perverting, and vocodering the Olivia Newton-John original so drastically that it took a Google search to make sure Daft Punk wasn't among the casualties. "Robot Love," a few tracks later, is merely the manipulated chatter of children. So, so cheeky.

 
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