Emperor Penguin / Knodel - Split EP
Box Factory Records

Yee-haw!  Emperor Penguin returns with more of the searing rhythms, eloquent production and 
tasty tasty synths I have come to know and love.  And now there's even BEATBOX VOCALS from 
a man making rhythms through his MOUTH!  Remember when people could do that?  Yummmm.  Taste 
the noise.  Not only that, but they're able to fit a whole song into the mix!  Pretty 
synthesizer tunes, entertaining vocal samples, and a fine mix of both sampled and sequenced 
drums are elements of that which mean Emperor Penguin, the duo from Chicago, IL.  The 
additional groovy organic guitar riffs and bass that's funky as hell make their return, and, 
well... it seems Emperor Penguin's really in top form on this EP.   Entertaining songs both 
for listening in solitary contemplation and for ROCKING OUT at a lobster party.  Yes, kids, 
make your seaworthy friends dance to GOOD music by playing them some Emperor Penguin!  And 
then let them wonder what in the world they were just listening to.  Just LET THEM WONDER.    
Funky.  "Fatal Exception Error" is track two and though, well, it refers to a computer 
crashing, it's just, well, you know, the perfect kind of song for introducing someone to 
what Emperor Penguin is all about.  I think, maybe.   Doing so is such a hard task but is 
definitely a worthwhile endeavor.  You can trip out to "Ode to Secret Shopper", or perhaps 
glide a small falcon down the aisles and aisles of clothing and accessories at your local 
superstore.  Reminisce back to the 70s when all you had to choose from were simple earth-tones.  
Then listen to Knodel, a band from Oregon whom I HAVEN'T heard before, and am NOT predisposed 
to like (though how can you NOT like Emperor Penguin?) and you will begin to hear a tune with 
distorted beats and a soaring synth.  But is it catchy?  Yes!  And it gets funky.  And it goes 
on (and on) as such.  A pretty neat diddy which builds toward the end into a deconstructed 
happytime and acts as a nice transition from Emperor Penguin into the oncoming world of Knodel, 
from Portland, Oregon.  But that world is ... well, it sounds like attempts to sound like a lot 
of different things.  The 2nd track is sparse moody synthpop, not goth, not techno, but indifferent.
It sounds like bands I have heard and decided not to listen to any more.  Then there's this 
track-attack of arpeggiated synth noise madness, which is short and acts like a nice all-synth glue 
between sparseness and the next song, which is ... sparse.  If that.  It's basically a guy playing 
acoustic guitar and singing /something/ through a bubbly vocoder.  Melody's nice, with the bonus of 
an orchestral string track, but it's nothing really worthy of remembrance.  Sorry.  Maybe the 
lyrics are heartfelt and beautiful, but you really can't understand them due to their rather 
superfluous vocodedness.   But, again, utterly forgettable (sorry), moody or indifferent, like a 
slow washed-up ex-member of Man or Astroman's midlife crisis solo project.  And then there's the 
next song/last sonq which is like a tribute to Boards of Canada, except with THIS band's name 
(Knodel) being spelled over and over. Some nice ambience to the track but the lead is too 
pervasive and detracts from what would otherwise be, perhaps, a better result from the potential 
talent of Knodel.
...tim johnson...

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