[one_half]Whole Numbers Play the Basics is another triumph for Casino Versus Japan’s Eric Kowalski, and if it just misses carrying the freshness and sense of imagination evident on Go Hawaii, it’s a better record for being slightly less precious. (Yes, the children’s vocal samples of “Very Sunny” would sound odd on this record of chilled grandeur.) Scottish electronica heroes Boards of Canada are still the closest touchstone, due to a similar emphasis on stately breakbeats, a track listing that alternates short vignettes with longer pieces, and a series of light, airy melodies that frequently sound as though warped by long periods spent trapped in nearly forgotten synthesizers. Still, Kowalski’s work is so strong and distinctive that it stands alone; similar to Tomita LPs from the ’70s, the album manages to sound evocative and elegant yet alien and remote, like a drawing room in space. Aside from the short tracks, nearly every one of the first eight songs is as delicious as anything produced by the indie-electronic pop movement of the past five years.
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