Beautiful Cyborg

published on All Music USA © 2003

by Brian Olewnick

Beautiful Cyborg was conceived by Philip Brophy (and performed along with François Tetaz and Darrin Verhagen) as a live accompaniment to projected images from Japanese anime films, and the music certainly reflects the sci-fi, darkly slick world that tends to be part and parcel of that scene. Heady grooves with a disco noir sensibility intersect with ambient noise effects and other atmospherics. All of this is reproduced using Dolby surround sound, making for a viscerally immediate (although oddly artificial) feeling, very much as though the listener is seated in a high-tech theater. The pieces tend to shift mood nicely, beginning, for example, with an African-sounding rhythm that evanesces into a soft twinkle only to come throbbing back in heavy metal/disco guise. Depending on one's areas of interest, there's likely to be both something to attract one's interest and something to cause one to grimace. Those familiar with Brophy's work with Philip Samartzis will enjoy the abstract patches and radio interference that crop up unexpectedly here and there, while hardcore anime fans will doubtless head straight toward the rockish sectors, both possibly wishing the other wasn't around. But on its own terms, as something to be heard alongside a sometimes commercial, sometimes avant-garde art form, Beautiful Cyborg has to be judged a success. Besides, one can always simply wallow in the infinitely deep sound space.