C♭: Disk Too Slow (Bandcamp)
Chris Beckstrom is the sharp mind behind C♭. This album of manipulated error music reminds me of the glory days of glitchy IDM, specifically the more scatterbrained, humorous entries in Atom™’s catalogue (think The Naturalist or Disk Orchestra). Much of the music here appears manipulated from piano sources — whether these are played by Beckstrom or sourced from existing recordings, I’m not sure — but a track like “bit.ly” takes it far from the source with a series of shimmering stutters. Elsewhere he’s not afraid to lay down a groove, like the chuggy downtempo swank of “Buffering…” Including a remix of Ryan Andrews as the centerpiece of the album is a curious choice, with a sudden headlong dive into singer-songwriter material (complete with guitar, bass and drums alongside a melodic vocal), but C♭ works his magic in the details, with little sputters, hiccups and skips that spice it up. Still, it’s not my personal favorite moment — then again I usually gravitate toward instrumentals in general. I particularly like the colliding of worlds on “Samples Missing,” where jazzy cut-ups evolve into a jaunty tech house groove. He takes it a step further on “Doors Open on the Right,” a fun dance track that works as a tribute to Chicago’s public transit system. (The familiar fembot voice sample nearly startled me; after 8+ years in Chicago, it’s still burned into my subconscious…) Overall I like that Disk Too Slow vacillates between outright error music, as heard on the glitchy extended “Orchestra Tuning” or the stuttering “Hope Is,” and more accessible grooves like “Neon Lightbulb Turning On” or dense downtempo FlyLo slabs like “Buffering…” Really fun and engaging stuff start to finish, all offered up for free! Highly recommended listening.