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Realistic: Private Moments - Reviews

reviewed by François Couture,

With the number of new samplists/turntablists appearing each year, one often gets the impression this "art" is the easy way out. Then, once in a while comes along someone like James Towning to remind us that plundering other people's records to build loops can be made into something more than your average hip-hop track. Private Moments, the man's second full-length release, is a rollercoaster of fast-action, break-beat driven, humor-soaked sampler techno. All tracks segue to create a non-stop album you can dance to (at least on half of the tracks) until you start listening to the components. Following the anti-copyright esthetic of Negativland and John Oswald, Realistic borrows material from every possible source: classic rock, disco, dance music, self-improvement records, TV soap operas, movies, commercials. Pat Boone is heard side by side with Peter Gabriel's "San Jacinto," Led Zeppelin's "All My Love" (that keyboard loop will puzzle you for a while before the solution comes to you), and the chimes from Intel's corporate tune. The last appears in "Trademark Massage," a hilarious collage of snippets from commercials. People who appreciate the funny bone of Stock, Hausen & Walkman will find Private Moments very enjoyable and more accessible. Some turns are a bit rough, but overall Towning demonstrates a knack for unconventional looping, sonic accumulation, and a good joke. The words "So, basically these are the techniques that I've used to gain what I've got and I'm sure, with a little bit of work, you can take them much further than I've taken them," spoken out of context in the last track "I Am What?," are almost self-explanatory — you just enjoyed an hour of unpretentious fun art."

reviewed by Andrew Magilow
"If the Illegal Art logo appears on the back of a CD J-card, you know you're in for an aural treat. Don't take the liner notes' advice -- "Headphones are recommended for the ideal listening experience" -- lightly; there are so many nuances and intricate permutations buried within these mixes that they are best experienced with speakers wrapped tightly around your cranium.
Illegal Art and its roster of sample-manipulating artists take pride in pissing on America's copyright and trademark laws. Private Moments continues down this pungent and illicit path, offering 19 tracks of aural mayhem. James Towning, the man behind the Realistic moniker, has had one ear tuned to his Ensoniq samplers and the other fixed on pop culture trends for the last decade, releasing other sampled treats under the name Fact 22.
The true pleasure of Private Moments is participating in Realistic's audio scavenger hunt. The disc contains far too many samples to list here, culled from sources ranging from TV shows to campy commercials. It's your duty to separate them into appropriate categories as you digest this brilliantly deconstructed piece of pop culture worship.
"Magnetic Home Surgery" features a space age bachelor pad backdrop and the strong scent of a suave, white-tuxedo wearin' gigolo. A detailed inspection reveals multiple threads of subharmonic genius worming their way through the musical foundation, while a sultry female voice loops to your ears' content. Towning plucks reveling gospel singers from their traditional setting and grafts them onto the bucking, chorus-heavy beat on "Rosie Blackman Overdrive". "Trademark Massage", in what could only be described as literal commercial suicide, slips references of everything from Coca Cola to hand lotion to Army recruiting into a metaphorical nose-thumbing directed at the advertising industry. It's modern culture, summarily wrapped into four minutes of exasperating entertainment and capped off with an old-school Macintosh mono-speaker bleep! And "Twenty Seven Bee Stroke Six" waxes on serial killer slicing techniques and abrupt keyboard crashes, making for a harsh attack on your senses.
Private Moments is great for a late night (or really early morning) chillout session, during which your consciousness can weave in and out of reality. The disc presents two challenges. Will Towning's meticulous coupling of cultural snippets mesh with his electronic beats? And will you succeed in deciphering the copious amounts of media manipulation that he presents? It's a bit daunting when taken in a single sitting, but the true value of Private Moments is its re-playability; you will don your headphones time and time again to see what new tidbits of silly Americana you can uncover. And as you drift off to sleep, visions of infringed copyright laws in your head, don't get too far removed -- Towning's crafty skills may lead to daft dreams."