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Rhythm & Views

The Death Set

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Tools of the trade for this Baltimore-via-Australia duo are robotic drum-machine beats, ray-gun samples, vocals that sound as if they were shouted through a Radio Shack walkie-talkie and a general air of manic anarchy.

The Death Set runs circles around most of the glitchcore and laptop bands out there. Canned beats and tinny melodies never sounded so good. Well, at least not since Devo.

Johnny Siera and Beau Velasco have been recording together for more than two years, with several EPs under their collective belt, but this is their first full-length album. If, that is, 18 songs in 26 minutes qualifies as "full-length." Their compositions range from a few seconds long to the comparatively epic "Had a Bird," which clocks in at almost 2 1/2 minutes.

Worldwide, which was released this week, borrows synth-pop melodies and soccer-cheer vocals, filtering them through an anxious cyberpunk landscape of blips and bleeps, as well as the occasional snarling Steve Jones-style guitar riff. The Death Set also isn't above a little hip-hop-style self-promotion, such as on the booming doom of the 39-second "MFDS," on which the only vocals consist of the repeated refrain: "motherfucking Death Set."

Songs such as "Peak Oil," "Negative Thinking," "Intermission" and "Moving Forward" are almost annoying in their bargain-basement catchiness, but I found them charming and ricocheting around my brain long after the disc stopped playing.

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