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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Ryoji Ikeda

Rating: NR/10 ?

April 7, 2006
Dataplex is unlike any album I've ever heard and is un-quantifiable in any traditional sense, hence the non-rating. Composed of the sonic equivalent of zeros and ones, the disc slowly but surely builds on sparse glitches and clicks with each track until it reaches a sound that could technically be called music. The progression is an interesting one to follow: tracks 1 and 2 are nothing more than fast ticking sounds and the occasional super high-pitched screech, track 3 introduces a low hum (the bass line?), tracks 4 and 5 mix the low and high ends, etc. Each song on Dataplex incorporates the sound used on every track before it, and always adds one new element that will in turn appear on every subsequent track.

The fun really starts with track 9, "Data.Microhelix" which is the first song that features a change in pitch - the bass line shifts between 2 different notes. This is a minor alteration, and one you would expect in the first few seconds of any song, but on such an album of such stark minimalism it makes a huge splash. Incredibly, composer Ryoji Ikeda manipulates sound in such a way as to impress the listener with just a pitch shift. His progression on Dataplex is like a house of cards: the structure itself is razor thin and could tumble at any moment, but with a slow, careful hand, he can add an infinite number of levels.

Track 14, "Data.Flex" signals Dataplex's next major advancement as Ikeda begins to incorporate more techno-sounding elements; 8-bar loops and dynamic crescendos and decrescendos. "Data.Vortex's" wash of soft noise gives way to a furious assemblage of everything we've heard up to this point, somehow making it sound like a combination processed analog drums, strings and woodwinds. The patience involved in listening to Dataplex pays off when you reach this blissful climax in both Ikeda's music and his abstract message about the nature of sound.

And yet, for all the beauty and significance in Ikeda's music, I can't imagine listening to it multiple times. It's a high-concept, high-art album that would better fit in a museum than on a CD rack. At times the frequencies are so high that they are painful even at moderate volumes, and the disc comes with a warning that it may cause some CD players to "experience unpredictable playback errors." This is asking too much of the listener. The pleasure Dataplex offers is in the satisfaction of understanding the composer's message, not in an enjoyment of the music itself, and as such it doesn't hold interest once you get what Ikeda is doing.

Reviewed by Andy Brown
A regular contributor to LAS, Andy Brown lives in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, but doesn\'t think he has an accent.

See other reviews by Andy Brown



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