VHS OR BETA

On And On (Nasty Scrimp Records)

By Robert Gruber

Louisville may or may not become the mecca of new music that Playboy claims we are. Either way, that's of little consequence to VHS or Beta. They know that no major label A&R sharpie is going to be pocketing a fat signing bonus off of them, and that suits them fine.

Arguably this area's most experimental combo since Stutter, VHS or Beta has produced in this 4-song EP a freakish, funky sci-fi dance record for the new millennium and released it on 12-inch vinyl. The sound quality is exceptionally crisp and stereophonic, a ready mix for worldwide distribution.

"AM/FM Dog," the opening cut, sets the pace with its clean, staccato beats, boingy bass runs and Vocoder-ized vocals the sound meets somewhere between "My Life In the Bush of Ghosts" and "No Parking On the Dance Floor." "Easy Street" and "Lizard Cop" carry on in the same vein, with guitars that are both mechanical (in the Slint/Fugazi/Blenderhead style) and choppy (in the James Brown/"I got soul" style); "Stay Tuned" features cartoonish touches of vintage Moog synth.

With influences that run the gamut from Midnight Star and Daft Punk to A Tribe Called Quest and Japanese animation flicks, VHS or Beta simultaneously covers the stylistic map and creates a niche all to themselves with On & On.