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Bouncy, Cute Casiotones


Canned synthesizer set on bouncy autoplay, monotone Swed-glish vocals, bare-bones lyrics of dubious syntax-this is the medicine that sweet Doktor Kosmos dispenses. Of course, you'd never actually want to listen to most of it for any length of time, but it's a cute, often masterfully comic item nonetheless.

Most of the melodies-beside the straight-from-the-Casio beat-seem lifted from early Nintendo game soundtracks; the rest consist of playful riffs repeated until they grow mesmerizing, or just irritating. The brilliance behind Doktor Kosmos, which shines through in only three or four songs, is that you don't turn it off sooner. It's the great accomplishment of mindless muzakians and pop drum machine artists everywhere that you find yourself guiltily listening to "Don't Look at Photographs" or "Holiday" one more time.

Flavored with Scandinavian touches sure to warm the heart of any hobby linguist, the Doktor's lyrics reek of appealingly awkward translation: we see the roots of "Holiday" in a two-word compound, as well as the enclitic "yes" or "no" tacked on at the end of a sentence for emphasis ("You can't look back, no, no/You must look forward, yes").

It is doubtful whether Doktor Kosmos has actually taken any Hippocratic Oath, but the lovably cankersored fellow (if he's the cover man) is no stranger to political commentary. With a European openness and security about the human body, the Doktor pokes fun in "Porno-Person" at the American tendency toward absolute public condemnation of purveyors of porn. As the song's narrator, the "porno-person" tells of "eating porno-food/driving porno car" and ultimately, in the final incongruous shocker, being "body without soul." Deep down, says the Doktor, these porno-people must be just like all of us. Less subtle notes on American society occur in "Legalize it. Now."

But the Doktor's comic genius may be what really routs your brain. "Yes it is many times you doubt on the human" takes the background music from a televised real estate catalog and plays a sample of fiendishly incomprehensible speech with Jamaican-English rhythms. You'll spend hours trying to decipher it and may, in fact, go insane. ("Sweet love for my nation?" Perhaps.)

Another tour-de-force in the big-laughs arena is "L.S.A.T.T. (Lazy Sunday afternoon table-tennis," which, too, uses a restrained combination of auto-play and slice-of-life sampling. Here, the leisurely beat serves to pace the recording of an entire table tennis match that plays in the background. "Noone home" opens with all the signs of people being in the house, and then overlays the beat with all manner of attempted communication (buzzers of every timbre, phones ringing).

Perhaps too dedicated to his medium, Kosmos does attempt some instrumental pieces, which sorely miss his lyrical wit and no-holds-barred delivery.

Kosmos may demonstrate no small hubris in the proclamation of dictatorial creative lifestyle autonomy of "Dance dance dance" ("And I could dance a thousand mile/And everyone look at my style/And when I danced a thousand mile/ And I don't want to sing and smile/I change my style"). But we forgive him for it, if only for the sheer exuberance he promises to those who try.

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