With top-40 stars like Cher and Tina Turner using vocoders and Moogs, how can underground synth-based bands compete? Well, by getting hard. "Avant Hard," that is. British electro-noise band Add N to (X) brings on the art-school damage-rock on their latest CD, filling 56 minutes with harsh keyboards and frenzied drumming designed to send any pop diva diving under the table.
Opener "Barry 7's Contraption" crosses wacky circus music with stuttering fax machines and antique-car horn sound effects. The humor is short-lived, though. "Robot New York" guides the listener through the "Blade Runner"-like streets of an apocalyptic metropolis. With "Metal Fingers in My Body" and "Revenge of the Black Regent," Add N to (X) successfully orchestrates perverse, Devo-inspired soundtracks -- perfect for homemade slasher videos. Although the CD is mostly instrumental, the group tosses in vocal chanting reminiscent of the androids from "Battlestar Galactica."