Released with a Magic Eye-style artwork and mind-bending lettering, the cover art for “Every Machine On” seems the product of an unapologetically restless mind, striving to overwhelm listeners with a barrage of electronic styles.
The album’s opener, a polyrhythmic drone, only hints at what follows. Many of these pieces are heavily rhythmic, employing drum machines that skitter and squeal in the manner of Aphex Twin, who seems to inspire the queasy ambient passages as well. On top of them are synth-organ chords that occasionally find blissful electro territory with swelling progressions. The melodies are often fairly pleasing, often soaring just above the threshold of the rhythm tracks. This is Cubist electro, constantly shifting perspectives and forcing each at once. A weird kind of ambient vibe is achieved on the cheekily titled “God Damn it, My Neighbors Are. Barbecuing?”—albeit one constantly sliced by fractured synths and by drum and bass patterns that would seem clumsy if they didn’t occur so consistently on this release.
This is overall a particularly disjointed take on things, as samples and reverse breaks blow through even the most placid pieces. Nothing is allowed to stay on very long, as rhythm tracks and rhythms implode suddenly, revealing the skeletonless nature of many of these pieces. There are even a couple of cryptic field recording interludes, almost hinting at some kind of narrative—a notion kept just barely in the realm of possibility by the gradual mellowing of the disc.
The acoustic guitar-sampling of “Gator 6” shows that First Dog can groove hard on sequenced drums and samples—just not for long. This democratic sense that allows such a piece to last barely two minutes before segueing into the foreboding “Fraser’s Tomb” is both a hallmark and an occasionally frustrating aspect of this release.
In this context, the penultimate track, “Disassemble,” provides a welcome respite with its roiling seven-minute buildup—reaching the center of the earth, perhaps? 10/10 -- Travis Bird (11 August, 2010)