Aux 88: Black Tokyo

Puzzlebox Records, 2010

Black Tokyo cover

On Black Tokyo, Aux 88 juxtapose electro depths with moments of kitsch. The title track’s chorus, repeated a capella ad nauseum, isn’t as fascinating as vocalist Ice Truck seems to believe. More successful is the melodic instrumental “Tokyo Drive.” Can traffic truly be so leisurely?

“Electronic Cinema” and “Electric Underground” echo Dopplereffekt and Kraftwerk, respectively. The former track’s naive vocals are somewhat grating. “Soul of Black” is the most successful pairing of voice with electronics. Piano chords and thick bass evoke a night skyline. “Stance” isn’t bad either. Wistful Detroit strings contrast with the heavy beat.

“Reel to Real” and “Dragon Fly” are my least favorite tracks. Over-exuberant synth stabs on the former and rave-style vocals on the latter are apparently tailored to a type of club I avoid. I find “Kyoto Station” charming, however, perhaps because I’ve actually been there. I wish there were an instrumental version of “Winter in Japan.” The synth parts are beautiful. “Tokyo Telacom” [sic] is what the title track should have been. The vocoder parts work well with the subject matter.

I admire Aux 88 for their longevity and for their willingness to experiment. This is a diverse album. While I may not like certain cuts, there’s something for everyone with an interest in Detroit techno and electro. The final track proper, “Shadow Dancing,” even has a dub techno flavor. I would love to see a live show with this material.

4/5 stars

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1 Comment

My personal opinion about this LP is not a good one. It's a sine wave of ordinary and downright appalling. I may be being harsh on the 'ordinary' description but the 'appalling' are that bad it sort of grabs the rest and drags them down into the depths. I bought this without previewing the tracks; I trusted Aux88. I trust them no more. I have attempted to listen to this LP as an LP and I now stagger on 'Stance' and just switch off (previously I managed to reach Dragon Fly before the inevitable switch off...) The music on the track is alright, I suppose, but all my attention is drawn to the cheesy dirge emanating from the off key vocalist's lips. Dragon Fly irritates me incredibly; Reel to Real makes me want to rip my own ear drums out with a blunt instrument. The tracks I've drawn particular scorn upon are no hopers but there are some where you think, "Why, oh why, the vocals??" Electric Underground would have been a cracking tune if not for the (again) irritating vocals. I'd really like my money back Mr. Tucker and Mr. Hamilton.