The concept brought back horrific memories of Hildegard Westerkamp and John Cage from my university days. Music made from the sounds of a grimy subway system? In my mind, there's only one way it could actually work. So, is the usage of samples recorded whilst riding the TTC's subway system a gimmick, or an integral piece of A.M.'s new pie, titled Underground?
A mix of electroacoustics, electronica, and soft-pop using samples from the TTC Underground alongside recorded vocals, guitars, and synths, everything manages to come together somewhat nicely. The idea sounds similar to the Matmos album, A Chance to Cut is to Cure, which is largely composed of samples recorded during various operations and cosmetic procedures. In theory, Matmos' concept is pretty cool, but in practice I found it rather dull. A.M. manages to skirt the blandness by not deriving every percussive beat and melody from a subway sample, instead choosing to incorporate the samples into already solid tracks. You'll definitely hear some familiar sounds in the tracks, though, I often wonder if samples like the girl's voices chanting "Boom snap clap ba-boom snap clap" were recorded in a studio or between stops on the Bloor line.
The electroacoustics fan in me wishes there was a more obvious link to Toronto's subway system, but thanks to Concordia University, there's no longer an electroacoustics fan inside me. A.M.'s Underground is therefore recommended listening. Head on over to his Myspace page, or check out some really long demos of all the tracks on the CD over at CD Baby where you can also order the oddball album.
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