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Telefon Tel Aviv
"Map of What is Effortless"
by: Zero Sharp

I only managed to hear a song or two off Telefon Tel Aviv's first album, "Fahrenheit Fair Enough," but like many others out there, I was intrigued, and I enjoyed it. I seemed to have missed a few small releases between then and now, but when "Map of What is Effortless" landed in my lap I was psyched to give it a listen. The listen really surprised me; the duo has taken quite a turn toward what could only be described as mixing adult contemporary with IDM. That being said, they do it well; the mixing of the more organic sounding live instruments with electronica is nearly seamless, and that in itself is nearly a reason to listen. Unfortunately, many of the songs sound a little too close to Craig David for comfort. It's slightly monkeyed, and there are the signs of IDM glitch and the like, but the end effect sounds much like something headed straight for the laundromat circuit in both its dramatic lyrics and r&b melodies. The first single, "My Week Beats Your Year," sounds like "I'm Too Sexy" revisited by a wanna-be Hollywood starlet. For the older fans, there's a little bit left over from the previous stuff, the glitchy string based soundscape of the title track, "Map of What is Effortless," is beautifully put together, and it evolves elegantly. "What It Is Without the Hand That Wields It" doesn't even really sound like it belongs on the album, its surprisingly unsettling darkness is perhaps even reminiscent of their work with Trent Reznor a few years ago. I'm not sure if I would recommend the album, but I imagine that the chill-out/easy listening crowd will find something to enjoy. Telefon Tel Aviv runs the risk of alienating the fans it started with, but they have succeeded in striking out in a new direction with the music, which is something that is worthy of respect.


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