EAST LANSING, Mich., April 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- East Lansing-based musician Lee Abramson, (43) has forever changed the way music may be created using a touchpad and one finger.
With his new album "The Bionic Mouth" Abramson is now the first musician to ever use the ModelTalker voice synthesizer for music purposes.
This vocoder is the album's more memorable aspects, and is the method by which Abramson is still able to sing for the record, becoming in effect the bionic aspect of The Bionic Mouth. A vocal synthesizer software that uses segments of recorded speech to emulate the spoken word for those losing their voice due to ALS, Abramson utilizes ModelTalker to pepper The Bionic Mouth's eleven tracks with vocal expression that sounds both organic and abstract at once, lending the album a certain futuristic quality that escapes mere novelty.
While some listeners may find the ModelTalker vocal system to be an unnecessary focal point in the music itself (it has a very distinct sound), it largely blends into the overall mix after a few listens, and is surprisingly effective at getting Abramson's point across despite the occasional indecipherability of the lyrics themselves. And when taken in tandem with the music on The Bionic Mouth, it becomes inseparable to the overall experience of the album.
Comprised of mostly covers, The Bionic Mouth is a pretty interesting listen, both for the points above as well as the song choices, which run the gamut from holiday cheer (Christmas standard "Have Ur Selph a M3rry Lil Xmas"), to roots blues (Leadbelly's "Black Girl" – known elsewhere as "Where Did You Sleep Last Night"), bizarre interpretations of nasty-core hip-hop (2 Live Crew's "C'Mon Babe"), to 80's post-punk classics (The Smiths' "How Soon is Now"), and 60's hit parade pop (The Osmonds' "A Little Bit Country," with guest vocals by Abigail Grille), as well as the University of Michigan's school fight song "The Victors" (UMich is Abramson's alma mater). And of course, what collection would be complete without the addition of a digitized version of the national anthem of these here United States, which doubles as Abramson's Hendrix moment vis-a-vis the included ModelTalker version of "The Star Spangled Banner."
The Bionic Mouth's standout moment comes with Abramson's cover of "How Soon is Now," in this context literally enough to stand the hair up on the back of your neck. A stripped-down and thoroughly encapsulated version of the classic song that defined a generation, Abramson's version funnels the primal drive of the original's plaintive appeals for human affection. Computer-generated distortion slides into and out of the simple, pressure chamber electro beats and the uncomplicated yet effective sound effects he's layered into the mix, aping one of the most famous guitar riffs of the 80's in a way that sounds both dated and fresh at once. Through his ModelTalker, we hear Abramson's digitized vocal strains mouthing Morrissey's original lines, repeating "I-am-human-and-I-need-to-be-loved, just -like-everybody-else-does," and voila, we have another lens into the heart-wrenching emotion underscored in the original, the pain and joy of living that every one of us experiences in our own way and time. A great, idiosyncratic reworking of the song that someone should email to Johnny Marr already.
In all, The Bionic Mouth is unlike much else you might hear any time soon, and well worth a listen.
Reviewer: Reed Burnam
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