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Released April 16 — C.M.S.O. (short for Course Management System Optimization), the newest EP by Orca, Attack! (aka Elizabeth Joan Kelly and David Rodriguez). C.M.S.O. is the first volume in Strategic Tape Reserve’s Learning by Listening series and is available as a cassette or as a digital download.
- The Best Experimental Music on Bandcamp: May 2021
- Avant Music News Best of 2021
- Tabs Out Top 200 Tapes of 2021 (#46)
- 15 More Realistic Goals (The Wire, June 2023)
…..incoherent snippets of detail are delivered via garbled new age electronics and blissed out chorals, like a sleep learning tape that’s been chewed by the deck….There’s something weirdly compelling to pieces such as ‘Literature Review’ with its haunted vocoder glitch and ‘Conclusion,’ which sounds like a Sufjan Stevens track being half remember from a dream.” – The Wire
The New Orleans-based duo of Elizabeth Joan Kelly and David Rodriguez mix retro-futuristic voices with technological debris to create something not far from James Ferraro’s work circa Far Side Virtual. Simultaneously funny and creepy, C.M.S.O. is cultural collage that works on whatever level you feel like assigning to it. – Bandcamp
Hypnotic and unsettling compositions are permeated by processed spoken word and oscillating, celestial vocals, but ‘Ethical Approval’ is a real standout — all warped exotica, cascading harps and fiery jazz horns. Whether you learn anything or not, this splendid curio is well worth experiencing. – Electronic Sound
Reaching an ecclesiastical euphoria of harmonies and echoes, the voice doles out thank you’s from the creators of the course. After which things descend into instrumental chaos with glissando notes filling the soundscape, ending the course on an emphatic and almost ornate note tied off with a twinkling swish of pixellated bells at the very end. – listencorp
It’s kind of fun how this cassette begins with that wild electro-folk sound and then ends on something along the same lines though not completely the same. It just keeps that instructional aspect sandwiched in between and that just feels fitting. – Raised By Cassettes
God, I love this. I love the music and I love the idea, which is one of those you wish you’d thought of yourself and can’t believe it hasn’t been done before…Airy vocals, mangled library music, robotic spoken word and sudden flights of electronic fancy guide the listener through what seems to be a pretty complex academic paper… – Underscore Music Magazine
A writer of repute on the failures of tech, communication and self-preservation, Rodriguez (who also files his musical experiments under Alison’s Disapproval) lends a constantly filtered and affected spoken word narration across all six tracks as Kelly swans, touches the ethereal with her diaphanous woos, calls, arias (a merger of Laurie Anderson, cosmic opera and Jane Weaver). Often transmogrified by robotic effects and the slowing and speeding up of that instructive monologue, Rodriguez’s message is constantly warped, broken up: sometimes on the verge of some Max Headroom glitch stutter, or the slurred falling apart speech of HAL. – Monolith Cocktail
Great for confusion and confused to know what to say. – Vital Weekly
The coupling of these topics with abstract modern classical and electronics is unique as far as I can tell. And this degree of quirky novelty is certainly in line with Kelly’s previous release. After a few listens, I am not sure what I learned but I do feel a little smarter. – Avant Music News
…surreal and psychedelic “listening guide” C.M.S.O. (Learning by Listening Vol. 1). You can take an apricot-colored, helix-shaped trip with its “Conclusion…” – The Autumn Roses
…these pieces acknowledge the influence of Raymond Scott, beloved inventor of electronic instruments, unlikely jazz band leader and a composer whose distinctive approach leant itself to use in madcap cartoons – in short, the kind of avant garde personality we’re sorely missing in these uptight 2020s. You hear the overhang of Scott’s approach in a sort of playful bounce in these pieces, each of which find itself on an odd frontier between wide-eyed synth experiments and science documentary soundtrack. Both Kelly and Rodriguez contribute vocals, either as spoken-word, instructive lecture-esque monologues, or as angelic harmonies sweeping high above the accompanying electronic backdrops, or as processed, gradually slowed-down, indecipherable non sequiturs. – Further.