The Fantastic Plastic Machine, S/T (Emperor Norton)

Posted December 31st, 1998 by admin

The Fantastic Plastic Machine
Emperor Norton
By: Eric G.

Tomoyuki Tanaka is the brains behind The Fantastic Plastic Machine, which is a familiar amalgam of kitsch-y 60’s pop, bossa nova disco, and Japanese humor. Tanaka keeps things brassy and bright with lots of swirling bass lines and retro-sounding horn arrangements. His sound is less authentically retro than the like-minded DJ Dimitri From Paris, but it’s much busier. Tanaka assembles his music more like a DJ than a musician, which explains the cut and paste framework of each track. Pizzicato Five is an obvious reference, what with all the forcibly saccharine female vocal samples, including a guest spot from Pizzicato Five’s own Maki Nomiya on “Dear Mr. Salesman.”

The whole retro-French-pop-thing is a bit overplayed, and this record does little to further the movement despite a few well-executed samples. “Allen Ginsberg” is a standout, however, blending machine blips and beeps with light jazz-rock samples and feverish percussion. Tanaka’s heavy use of skittering beats coupled with traditional pop arrangements grows tiresome, though, especially on the ironically titled “Please Stop.” The mood of the record is almost annoyingly giddy with a strong sense of contrivance. You just get the feeling this guy is trying too hard, but The Fantastic Plastic Machine is harmless enough in small doses.

Tags: review