Tipsy – Buzzz (Ipecac, 2008)
purchase this album (Amazon)

They call their music “drunktronica,” explain the seven-year layoff between this and their previous release by saying they were “distracted by commercial corporate money music for hire (as well as occasional substance abuse),” and are the new kids on the block at Ipecac Records, the imprint founded by noted rock & roll madman Mike Patton. Clearly, whatever else Tipsy might be, it isn’t boring — and neither is their third album, Buzzz.

Honestly, although I can often appreciate this sort of thing in principle — and I freely admit it would take me a lot longer than seven years to build something sensible out of the chopped-up bits of music Tipsy works with — anything -tronica usually turns me off; I can’t think about club music without remembering things like the time I woke up to the sound of a friend banging on my window, pre-dawn, to ask me if I’d help him wash some girl’s puke out of his car so his mom wouldn’t know he’d been at a rave all night. Even when the DJs manage to mix some melody in with the beats, I can’t help tuning out — I’m a lyrics guy, and I want some narrative with my noise.

All that being said, I found Buzzz to be an enjoyable listen. It’s a sonic tour through a strange world that sounds exactly like its garish cover, but there’s too much going on for the listener to get bored, and it’s so artfully assembled that you can admire it even if you can’t dance to it. Listening to each track is like staring at an immense mosaic — you’re constantly torn between taking it all in and dissecting it. It’s also got a sense of humor, as evidenced by catchy tracks like “Chop Socky” (download) and the lovably schizo “Swingin’ Spaceman.” Rather than relying on a monolithic barrage of beats to get their point across, Tipsy gambols in the rusty playground between analog and digital, playing on the tension between man and machine, old and new, drunk and sober.

A fun little record, in other words, and suitably strange for anyone looking for new frontiers in machine-assisted pop music. Heck, I may even find myself listening to it again — and for a grumpy old lover of acoustic instruments like me, that’s really saying something.