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Animation: Machine Language

In the wake of musician-composer Bob Belden’s sudden passing by heart attack at 58 last May, we are at least left with the satisfaction that his swan song is this eminently fascinating “cyberpunk opera,” a glorious twining of Philip K. Dick and electric Miles Davis that might well be subtitled 2015: A Jazz Space Odyssey. Narrated by Kurt Elling with a clipped, chilling cadence Rod Serling would have envied, Belden’s text for Machine Language examines the paradoxical struggle of machine vs. human in a manner worthy of the best and smartest science fiction: It’s the most surprising triumph of the record. And while the soundtrack is not always so inspired-who would have thought a song entitled “Disappear Annihilation” could be so boring?-Belden’s ensemble Animation gets a welcome boost from guest electric bassist Bill Laswell and his renowned mixer, James Dellatacoma.

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