(The unpredictable sizes of these album covers are all part of CTW's charm, he said weakly.)
Rock/pop has always had trouble mixing new sounds with old. When Dylan went electric, when synths usurped guitars, and dance usurped melody ;-) it was an either/or situation for quite a while. These things take time to bed in. The combination of acoustic and electronica might be the latest of these combinations. Bear with me. I'm new to all this. :-) Anyway, Rob Hunter, from Bristol in England, has taken sub-Mario Bros sounds and spliced them with sampled acoustic guitars and pianos on his eponymous EP from 12rec.net, and I'm glad he did so.
Here are sounds that are crude but endearing, used in snatches of pop that verge into "chiptune" territory. Add acoustic instruments and a lo-fi approach and you're on to a winner.
The first track, Spectrum, starts with bursts of static and develops into something that might have been produced by, well, a ZX Spectrum. This is as lo-fi as computer music gets - cheesy synths and cardboardy percussion. It's excellent. Just when you've had enough of lo-fi, along comes Waiting, which sounds like a folk song that's been chopped up by someone who wanted to dance. First Day Back starts off with a somnolent, almost shambolic piano introduction before the squeak of fingers on guitar frets announce a spliced guitar hook accompanied by distorted crunchy drums. The rather delicate vocals in Spill become another instrument alongside the stuttering guitar.
There's a lot to relish: the contrast of classic computer sounds with acoustic guitar and piano; subtle sampling and chopping of the "real" instruments; and an ear for the melodic. Best of all, the EP isn't an assembly of loops (a fault of much electronica) but a collection of songs and compositions. Each track is whistleable; this, surely, is scientific progress.
Rob Hunter's EP showcases another approach to music: it doesn't have to be either/or. If you like folk, electronica, lo-fi, or just plain music, have a listen.
Complete Album: Rob Hunter EP (zipped) 47MB
Individual mp3s available from here at archive.org.