taking a listen
reviews of local & state music CDs
FREE THE ROBOTS — Ctrl Alt Del
After a long seven years on the LA beat scene, Chris Alfaro, otherwise known as Free the Robots (freetherobots.tumblr.com), has finally gotten around to cutting a full-length debut after numerous teases over the years. Well, for fans of dirty, dirty dubstep, the wait has almost been worth it. Ctrl Alt Del isn’t for the faint of heart and it’s certainly not for the impatient. The album kind of meanders out of the gate, though there is plenty of skull-rattling low end to be found on opener “Sci-Fidelity,” the album takes a brief foray into mild computerized melodies before picking back up into the spiraling, otherworldly bass grooves on “Jupiter.” It’s on “Orion’s Belt Buckle,” however, that Ctrl Alt Del grabs you by the groin and makes you beg for clemency. There’s a distinctly ultramodern ideology found here that echoes the hallmarks of dubstep and grime, but it’s not often that an album in either of those strata strike such a definitive balance between hypnotic psychedelia and fearless abstraction. The idea of synthed accordion driving a subsonic backbeat seems dicey, but “Wandering Gypsy” uses the exotic magnetism of the melody to soothe before radically shifting gears into gritty house thumps and back. No subtext of beat is safe, either. “Select/ Start” roots in the grimiest, glitchiest electronica as “Granite Rock” carries forward that spirit over top cracking breaks and Orb-like drum ‘n’ bass. It’s here in the album’s second half that Ctrl Alt Del warps the album’s Thievery Corp-like acidity with it’s relentless mission to push the boundaries of dubstep. It’s challenging at times (see the Can-like foray into mind-numbing experimentalism courtesy of the Mars Volta’s Ikey Owens), but it’s also impossible not to get lost into the all-encompassing groove.
Free the Robots will open for the Glitch Mob at Greene Street Club on Monday, May 10.