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June 2002

Bradley Parker-Sparrow
We Are Not Machines
Southport

As the score for a film (Watch) whose subject matter is described as "people living on the edge," We Are Not Machines sets what one would imagine to be an appropriate tone: eerie, foreboding and even disturbing. The work of composer Bradley Parker-Sparrow, mixing acoustic piano with a variety of computer elements, samples and loops, comes across on its own as a somewhat bleak vision of the modern world, laced with biting-to-satiric commentary. From the lonely, detached keyboard exploration of "Bleak" to the pulsing electronic waves pushing stuttering piano on "Frantic Theme," Sparrow's work can crackle with scary Pet-Shop-Boys-on-the-edge electricity. Vocal counterpoint, from haunting vocalese meanderings (the foreboding "Watch") to Marlene Dietrich-style detachment ("Don't Pity the Mirror") is provided through most of the album by Joanie Pallatto, who can convey mourning, sharp social derision and desperation within a couple of measures of music. This somewhat abstract, dark atmospheric work is not for everyone-though interest may be piqued initially by the rap parody "Cut Off the Head of Eminem and Stick It Up His Butt!" which on this odd and interesting album comes in both full parental advisory and edited "PG Remix" versions.

Originally published in June 2002
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