A Surplus of 1 | Pyros and Unpunished Crimes

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United States - Ohio

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Electronic: Ambient Avant Garde: Experimental Moods: Instrumental
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Pyros and Unpunished Crimes

by A Surplus of 1

A diverse, thrilling world where the ghosts of electronic music history come back to fight and explode in Technicolor slow motion.
Genre: Electronic: Ambient
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. This Week's Featured Machine
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3:17 $0.99
2. A Whistler's German Passport
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3:58 $0.99
3. Knitting With Pliers
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3:32 $0.99
4. Quantified Membrane
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3:47 $0.99
5. Defensive Conversation
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2:40 $0.99
6. Goodnight Forward
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4:23 $0.99
7. The Child With Cold Teeth
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3:34 $0.99
Available as MP3, MP3 320, and FLAC files.


Album Notes
For most of its decade-long existence, Friendly Psychics Music has hidden a secret in Chris Jones, the label's co-founder, bass player and occasional lyricist and artist.

That changes with the inaugural release from A Surplus of 1, Jones' solo project. A longtime rock bassist, Jones switches gears by experimenting with the technology first introduced on Unified Alarm System's album "This is Only a Test." Employing a mix of sequencers, loops, circuit-bent electronics and more, Jones invokes the best of dark '80s pop and '90s techno with trippy, ambient numbers that balance structure and air, darkness and light.

Cinematic and pulsing, songs like "A Whistler’s German Passport" and "This Week's Featured Machine" kidnap deceptively simple chords and deposit them among layers of samples. Kraftwerk and Skinny Puppy form reference points for tracks like "Knitting With Pliers," but so does the simmering psychedelia of latter-day Flaming Lips and the heady soundtracks to "A Clockwork Orange" and "Tron."

Imagine touring a Japanese factory on a sheet of acid, but instead of a human tour guide you're being shuttled through the spark-laden machinery itself. It's grand and metallic, simple and warm, broken and perfect. Call it retro-futurism, techno fetishism, or post-Industrial tomfoolery. Just know that it's coming for you. And it's hungry.


to write a review

Lex Thiel

Disagreement.net (6/26/10)
Disagreement.net (6/26/10)

A Surplus of 1 - Pyros and Unpunished Crimes
(Friendly Psychics Music) 5 stars

Friendly Psychics Music is an independent collective based in Ohio and Colorada. Their early releases offered all some kind of lo-fi indie rock, but a few months back, I had the pleasure to review the first outing by Unified Alarm System, the label’s first electronic band consisting of Brainswarm’s Tim Donovan and label co-owner Chris Jones. A Surplus Of 1 sees the latter acting all by himself. The seven songs on Pyros And Unpunished Crimes are evidently not that different from UAS, which I happen to prefer though.

A Surplus Of 1’s major problem is, that despite being limited to the shorter length of an EP, the music never really manages to sound cohesive. The record starts with This Week’s Featured Machine, a rhythmic experiment not unlike the Residents, which is followed by A Whistler’s German Passport, whose saxophone sample gives it a certain acid jazz touch. Knitting With Pliers takes things back to more industrial flavoured territories, before Quantified Membrane is toying once again with saxophone sounds. Being ripped thus from abrasive avant-gardism to more ambient moods makes it really hard to get into the music.

Maybe the songs should have been assembled in a different order, but maybe this is exactly what was intended by the artist. The composition of strange synthesizers, loops, samples and circuit-bent toys is of course quite intriguing, but the overall result seems in need of structure. Instead of sounding like a seamless entity, Pyros And Unpunished Crimes feels more like a collection of ideas tossed randomly at the audience.

Chris Jones, apart from being one of the label’s owners, is also active in nearly every band on Friendly Psychics Music. In the regard, he reminds me of Robert Pollard, another Ohio native, who also seems unable to find enough outlets for his creativity.

-Lex Thiel