Flux - _Protoplasmic_
(Release, 1997)
by: Andrew Lewandowski (8 out of 10)
While other bands alienate their established fan base by revolutionizing their sound while retaining their name, thus guaranteeing that old fanatics will purchase the album on the basis of name recognition alone, James Plotkin provides ample warning that times have altered the style of OLD, the previous moniker of Flux. Surprisingly, _Protoplasmic_ does not drastically diverge from the path of previous OLD albums. In fact, the album can be dubbed as an "ambient pop" version of OLD's best moment, _The Musical Dimension of Sleastak_; the density has been thinned out and slowly evolving soundscapes have supplanted drastic alterations, yet both retain the same emphasis on surreal and mechanistic melodies. The addition of the stoic Ruth Collins on vocals only confirms this dehumanizing aspect, as does the dub-like percussive programming of Scorn's Mick Harris, who handles the production. While this serves to alienate the listener, it also generates the psychedelic aura of each piece. The sparse ambience only accentuates this unreality. Each melody slowly melts into space, before Plotkin's sense of repetition replicates the same melody, before once again disintegrating or supporting a completely unexpected new texture. Also, not only does the prim spoken word style (which states only the most absurd of lyrics, of course) of Collins' vocalizations appear blissfully incongruous amidst the playful melodies, Plotkin occasionally layers or repeats her voice, furthering the nihilistic inhumanity of it all. Anyway, _Protoplasm_ should satisfy most old OLD fans, while others should approach with caution, for it gets a bit odd in here.

(article published 14/9/1997)


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