Deceptikon: Birds of Cascadia

Zack Wright's Deceptikon site indicates that his handmade Japan tour CD Birds Of Cascadia is already sold out—not that that should surprise anyone too much, given that it was produced in a ridiculously small 100-copy run (those who missed out won't have to wait too long for new material, though, as Wright's prepping a new full-length, Greater Cascadia, for an early 2007 release). The tour CD might be a patchwork of unreleased songs and remixes (Machine Drum, Blamstrain, Tiki Obmar, Direkt Jive, Winnie The Shit) but its 40 minutes sounds great nonetheless.

A delicious amalgam of hip-hop, soul, and electropop, Birds Of Cascadia is unpretentious and, seemingly by design, modest in ambition yet never less than satisfying; a cut like “Footsteps In The Fire,” for example, with its laid-back vibe, silken strings, and funky turntable effects, charms effortlessly. Some cuts hit harder (the remix of Blamstrain's “Alive In Arms (Japan re-edit)” while others are as warm and enveloping as the softest blanket (Wright turns the lights way down for the gorgeous treatment of Tiki Obmar's “Akeney, Iowa”). With its sputtering bass lines and jaunty rhythms, the Machine Drum overhaul “Inner Outer Offs” encapsulates the collection's generally jubilant spirit, while “Dre Will Have His Day” features some memorably funky voice edits and squealing boom-bap. The Deceptikon formula is actually fairly straightforward—“Defenestration” essentially gooses a phat bass and funky hip-hop beats with a heavy snare slap—but the tunes' sing-song melodies and techni-colour sound provide a constant source of pleasure.

January 2007