Tag: ADULT. (Page 2 of 3)

BOY HARSHER Fate


Following up the moody cosmic synthpop of ‘Face The Fire’, Massachusetts duo BOY HARSHER have issued a second single ‘Fate’ from their forthcoming sophomore album ‘Careful’.

Coming over a bit like ADULT. meeting THE KVB, the pairing of Jae Matthews and Augustus Muller first started working together in 2014 through a need to produce and consume, experimenting with sound, video and text.

Their first full length album ‘Yr Body is Nothing’ came out in 2016 and featured the gloomy single ‘Last Days’. ‘Fate’ is comparatively brighter but no less introspective, with a spiky electronic hook and hypnotic staccato bass line laced with Matthews’ hazy nonchalant vocals and layers of disconcerting synthesizers.

“This song is about how there’s no amount of running that will prevent you from your life” the duo explain, “You are raw and beat-down, yet you will continue to behave the same way – Fate is your own trouble, a magnetic force that’s stuck on you forever.”

With suitably blood curdling horror video directed by Bryan M. Ferguson recalling the Scarlet Johansson art horror flick ‘Under The Skin’ but without the nudity, it too was also filmed in Glasgow, the city where you go out for a laugh but leave in stiches…

Out in February 2019 via their own Nude Club Records imprint, ‘Careful’ is said to see BOY HARSHER “use the medium of minimal electronics to create a compelling narrative of a deteriorating family and the reaction to run away from it”.

Embroiled in Matthews and Muller’s emotional surroundings and potentially self-destructive creative tension, it attempts “to detail the enveloping trauma of loss combined with the fantasy of escape”.


‘Fate’ is from upcoming album ‘Careful’ released on 1st February 2019 by Nude Club Records

BOY HARSHER play the following UK dates in 2019: Bristol Lanes (24th February), Leeds Wharf Chambers (25th February), Manchester Soup Kitchen (26th February), London Heaven (27th February)

http://boyharsher.com

https://www.facebook.com/boyharsher

https://twitter.com/boyharsher

https://www.instagram.com/boyharsher


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photo by Nedda Afsari
24th December 2018

2017 END OF YEAR REVIEW

Oscillate Mildly

The world found itself in a rather antagonistic and divisive state this year, as if none of the lessons from the 20th Century’s noted conflicts and stand-offs had been learnt.

Subtle political messages came with several releases; honorary Berliner Mark Reeder used the former divided city as symbolism to warn of the dangers of isolationism on his collaborative album ‘Mauerstadt’. Meanwhile noted Francophile Chris Payne issued the ELECTRONIC CIRCUS EP ‘Direct Lines’ with its poignant warning of nuclear apocalypse in its title song. The message was to unite and through music as one of the best platforms.

After a slow start to 2017, there was a bumper crop of new music from a number of established artists. NINE INCH NAILS and Gary Numan refound their mojo with their respective ‘Add Violence’ and ‘Savage (Songs From A Broken World)’ releases, with the latter recording his best body of work since his imperial heyday.

But the first quarter of the year was hamstrung by the anticipation for the 14th DEPECHE MODE long player ‘Spirit’, with other labels and artists aware that much of their potential audience’s hard earned disposable income was being directed towards the Basildon combo’s impending album and world tour.

Yet again, reaction levels seemed strangely muted as ‘Spirit’ was another creative disappointment, despite its angry politicised demeanour.

Rumours abounded that the band cut the album’s scheduled recording sessions by 4 weeks. This inherent “that’ll do” attitude continued on the ‘Global Spirit’ jaunt when the band insulted their loyal audience by doing nothing more than plonking an arena show into a stadium for the summer outdoor leg.

Despite protestations from some Devotees of their dissatisfaction with this open-air presentation, they were content to be short-changed again as they excitedly flocked to the second set of European arena dates with the generally expressed excuse that “it will be so much better indoors”.

By this Autumn sojourn, only three songs from ‘Spirit’ were left in the set, thus indicating that the dire record had no longevity and was something of a lemon.

Suspicions were finally confirmed at the ‘Mute: A Visual Document’ Q&A featuring Daniel Miller and Anton Corbijn, when the esteemed photographer and visual director confessed he did not like the album which he did the artwork for… see, it’s not just ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK 😉

Devotees are quick to say all criticism of DEPECHE MODE is unfair, but the band can’t help but make themselves easy targets time and time again. But why should the band care? The cash is coming, the cash is coming…

Luckily, veteran acts such as OMD and Alison Moyet saved the day.

The Wirral lads demonstrated what the word spirit actually meant on their opus ‘The Punishment Of Luxury’, while the former class mate of Messrs Gore and Fletcher demonstrated what a soulful, blues-influenced electronic record should sound like with ‘Other’.

As Tony Hadley departed SPANDAU BALLET and Midge Ure got all ‘Orchestrated’ in the wake of ULTRAVOX’s demise, the ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’ album directed by Rusty Egan, to which they contributed, became a physical reality in 2017.

Now if DM plonked an arena show into the world’s stadiums, KRAFTWERK put a huge show into a theatre. The publicity stunt of 2012, when Tate Modern’s online ticket system broke down due to demand for their eight album live residency, did its job when the Kling Klang Quartett sold out an extensive UK tour for their 3D concert spectacular.

No less impressive, SOULWAX wowed audiences with their spectacular percussion heavy ‘From Deewee’ show and gave a big lesson to DEPECHE MODE as to how to actually use live drums correctly within an electronic context.

Mute Artists were busy with releases from ERASURE, LAIBACH and ADULT. but it was GOLDFRAPP’s ‘Silver Eye’ that stole the show from that stable. LCD SOUNDSYSTEM returned after seven years with their ‘American Dream’ and it was worth the wait, with the most consistent and electronic record that James Murphy’s ensemble has delivered in their career.

To say Neil Arthur was prolific in 2017 would be an understatement as he released albums with BLANCMANGE and FADER while Benge, a co-conspirator on both records, worked with I SPEAK MACHINE to produce ‘Zombies 1985’ which was one of the best electronic albums of the year; and that was without the JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS stage play soundtrack ‘The Machines’.

Despite JAPAN having disbanded in 1982, solo instrumental releases from Steve Jansen and Richard Barbieri were particularly well-received, while David Sylvian made a return of sorts, guesting on ‘Life Life’ for ‘async’, the first album from Ryuichi Sakamoto since recovering from his illness. On the more esoteric front, Brian Eno presented the thoughtful ambience of ‘Reflection’, while THE RADIOPHONIC WORKSHOP had ‘Burials In Several Earths’.

2017 was a year that saw acts who were part of the sine wave of Synth Britannia but unable to sustain or attain mainstream success like BLUE ZOO, B-MOVIE, FIAT LUX and WHITE DOOR welcomed back as heroes, with their talent belatedly recognised.

Germany had something of a renaissance as veterans Zeus B Held and ex-TANGERINE DREAM member Steve Schroyder came together in DREAM CONTROL as another TD offshoot QUAESCHNING & SCHNAUSS offered up some impressive ‘Synthwaves’, while there actually was a new TANGERINE DREAM album, their first without late founder member Edgar Froese.

Eberhard Kranemann and Harald Grosskopf offered up some KRAUTWERK as other veterans like RHEINGOLD, DER PLAN, BOYTRONIC and DJ HELL also returned. Comparatively younger, 2RAUMWOHNUNG and KATJA VON KASSEL both offered up enticing bilingual takes on classic electronic pop.

The Swedish synth community again delivered with DAILY PLANET, PAGE, REIN, VANBOT, ANNA ÖBERG, 047 and LIZETTE LIZETTE all delivering fine bodies of work, although KITE were missed, with their German tour cancelled and release of their ‘VII’ EP postponed due to vocalist Nicklas Stenemo’s illness; ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK wishes him all the best in his recovery.

Across the Baltic Sea, Finnish producer Jori Hulkkonen released his 20th album ‘Don’t Believe In Happiness’ while nearby in Russia, a duo named VEiiLA showcased an unusual hybrid of techno, opera and synthpop and ROSEMARY LOVES A BLACKBERRY offered a ‘❤’.

One of the year’s discussion points was whether Synthwave was just synthpop dressed with sunglasses and neon signs but whatever, Stateside based Scots but Michael Oakley and FM-84 made a good impression with their retro-flavoured electronic tunes.

It wasn’t all about the expats and in a territory as big as North America, there came a number of up-and-coming home grown electronic artists with LOST IN STARS, PARALLELS, PATTERN LANGUAGE, SPACEPRODIGI, COMPUTER MAGIC and BATTLE TAPES all gaining traction.

Canada’s PURITY RING infuriated some of their fanbase by working with KATY PERRY on three tracks for her album ‘Witness’. AESTHETIC PERFECTION’s new singles only policy was paying dividends and the Electro Mix of ‘Rhythm + Control’, which featured the promising newcomer NYXX, was one of the best tracks of 2017.

Female solo artists had strong presence in 2017 as FEVER RAY made an unexpected return, ZOLA JESUS produced her best work to date in ‘Okovi’ and Hannah Peel embarked on an ambitious synth / brass ‘Journey to Cassiopeia’. Meanwhile, SARAH P. asked ‘Who Am I’ and MARNIE found ‘Strange Words & Weird Wars’ as ANI GLASS and NINA both continued on their promising developmental path.

Other female fronted acts like KITE BASE, SPECTRA PARIS, BLACK NAIL CABARET, AVEC SANS, EMT and THE GOLDEN FILTER again reinforced that electronic music was not solely about boys with their toys.

Respectively, Ireland and Scotland did their bit, with TINY MAGNETIC PETS and their aural mix of SAINT ETIENNE and KRAFTWERK successfully touring with OMD in support of their excellent second album ‘Deluxe/Debris’, while formed out of the ashes of ANALOG ANGEL, RAINLAND wowed audiences opening for ASSEMBLAGE 23.

A bit of smooth among the rough, CULT WITH NO NAME released a new album while other new(ish) acts making a positive impression this year included KNIGHT$, MOLINA, ANNEKA, SOFTWAVE, THE FRIXION and KALEIDA.

Despite getting a positive response, both iEUROPEAN and SOL FLARE parted ways while on the opposite side of the coin, Belgian passengers METROLAND celebrated five years in the business with the lavish ‘12×12’ boxed set

Overall in 2017, it was artists of a more mature disposition who held their heads high and delivered, as some newer acts went out of their way to test the patience of audiences by drowning them in sleep while coming over like TRAVIS on VSTs.

With dominance of media by the three major labels, recognition was tricky with new quality traditional synthpop not generally be championed by the mainstream press. With Spotify now 20% owned by those three majors, casual listeners to the Swedish streaming platform were literally told what to like, as with commercial radio playlists.

It is without doubt that streaming and downloading has created a far less knowledgeable music audience than in previous eras, so Rusty Egan’s recent online petition to request platforms to display songwriting and production credits was timely; credit where credit is due as they say…

While ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK does not dismiss Spotify totally and sees it as another tool, it should not be considered the be all and end all, in the same way vinyl is not the saviour of the music industry and in physics terms, cannot handle the same dynamic range as CD.

Music is not as emotionally valued as it was before… that’s not being old and nostalgic, that is reality. It can still be enjoyed with or without a physical purchase, but for artists to be motivated to produce work that can connect and be treasured, that is another matter entirely.

However, many acts proved that with Bandcamp, the record company middle man can be eliminated. It is therefore up to the listener to be more astute, to make more effort and to make informed choices. And maybe that listener has to seek out reliable independent media for guidance.

However, as with the shake-up within the music industry over the last ten years, that can only be a good thing for the true synthpop enthusiast. And as it comes close to completing its 8th year on the web, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK maintains its position of not actually promoting new acts or supporting any scene, but merely to write about the music it likes and occasionally stuff it doesn’t… people can make their own mind up about whether to invest money or time in albums or gigs.

Yes, things ARE harder for the listener and the musician, but the effort is worthwhile 😉


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK Contributor Listings 2017

PAUL BODDY

Best Album: QUASCHENING & SCHNAUSS Synthwaves
Best Song: BATTLE TAPES No Good
Best Gig: SOULWAX at O2 Ritz Manchester
Best Video: SOULWAX Is it Always Binary?
Most Promising New Act: MARIE DAVIDSON


IAN FERGUSON

Best Album: OMD The Punishment of Luxury
Best Song: SPARKS Edith Piaf (Said it Better Than Me)
Best Gig: SPEAK & SPELL at Glastonbury
Best Video: ALISON MOYET Reassuring Pinches
Most Promising New Act: MICHAEL OAKLEY


SIMON HELM

Best Album: PAGE Det Är Ingen Vacker Värld Men Det Råkar Vara Så Det Ser Ut
Best Song: LAU NAU Poseidon
Best Gig: PAGE at Electronic Summer 2017
Best Video: PSYCHE Youth Of Tomorrow
Most Promising New Act: ANNA ÖBERG


CHI MING LAI

Best Album: I SPEAK MACHINE Zombies 1985
Best Song: AESTHETIC PERFECTION Rhythm + Control – Electro Version
Best Gig: OMD + TINY MAGNETIC PETS at Cambridge Corn Exchange
Best Video: I SPEAK MACHINE Shame
Most Promising New Act: MICHAEL OAKLEY


RCHARD PRICE

Best Album: FADER First Light
Best Song: OMD Isotype
Best Gig: MARC ALMOND at London Roundhouse
Best Video: GOLDFRAPP Anymore
Most Promising New Act: NINA


STEPHEN ROPER

Best Album:  OMD The Punishment of Luxury
Best Song: DUA LIPA Be The One
Best Gig: HANNAH PEEL at Norwich Arts Centre
Best Video: PIXX I Bow Down
Most Promising New Act: PIXX


MONIKA IZABELA TRIGWELL

Best Album: ZOLA JESUS Okovi
Best Song: GARY NUMAN My Name Is Ruin
Best Gig: ERASURE at London Roundhouse
Best Video: GARY NUMAN My Name Is Ruin
Most Promising New Act: ANNA ÖBERG


Text by Chi Ming Lai
14th December 2017

ADULT. Detroit House Guests

A rather elaborate manifesto from the Michigan duo ADULT. sums up the artistic undertaking that is ‘Detroit House Guests’ – “Let us explore new modes of music making” they said…

“Let us take the intensity of the studio session and drop it into the home. If the ‘avant-garde’ is thought to be un-domestic then what impact does this domestic situation have on the shape and sound of our project? Can the radical even exist inside the domestic? It’s so private in the home. How vulnerable are we? Are the shades down and the curtains drawn? Can we become out of order? A rug turned at a slight angle, resisting not to straighten it as you pass by. The merger of soft and dark sides, melodic voices and angular jabs, organic and pre-programmed, dinner parties and carry out. A dislocated and disjointed dance.”

ADULT. are Detroit duo Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller. They played their first live show together in Germany in 1997 as ARTIFICIAL MATERIAL. Using the moniker PLASMA CO. they released their first undertakings, following by further releases under the name ADULT.

Apart from numerous albums and EPs, the pair has remixed the likes of PET SHOP BOYS, TUXEDO MOON, JOHN FOXX, DEATH IN VEGAS and THE FAINT amongst and others. But music isn’t their primary source of fulfilment. Both being acclaimed artists, Kuperus and Miller also make sculpture, paintings, films, photographs, performances, videos and installations.

The general idea behind ‘Detroit House Guests’ was to invite various artists to reside in ADULT’s studio for the duration of three weeks, to live, work and collaborate together in order to achieve “a total anthropological sound experiment and a full length album.”

The finished product features collaborations with a whole host of musicians and artists.

They include Douglas J McCarthy from NITZER EBB, Michael Gira from SWANS, Shannon Funchess from LIGHT ASYLUM, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe aka LICHENS, Austrian thereminist Dorit Chrysler and multidisciplinary artist Lun*na Menoh.

The two Doug McCarthy tracks are a true highlight of this production. ‘We Are A Mirror’ and ‘They’re Just Words’ are artistic masterpieces a la endeavours by GAZELLE TWIN. Doris Chrysler is ‘Inexhaustible’ in a very much a typical Mute track, filled with simplistic synth and tribal accents.

A bit of guitar is introduced on ‘Breathe On’ featuring Michael Gira and die-hard fans of vintage NIRVANA are bound to intercept the obvious connotations, with the addition of the female vocal nodding towards some good old grunge.

‘Into The Drum’ floats in and out of consciousness over COCTEAU TWINS-like noises and ‘This Situation’ undergoes magic shifts to achieve the status of a supreme art form, leading onto ‘As You Dream’. The closing track multiplies the emotion by the manifestation of eclectic sounds catalysing interesting vocals and chant-esque sequences.

‘We Chase The Sound’ brings back the minimalistic bass synth and brave voice overlays, sounding uncannily like NITZER EBB sans McCarthy, but with the snarl of Shannon Funchess.

‘Uncomfortable Positions’ are “uncomfortably cosy”, while ‘Stop (and Start Again)’ hit with the bass guitar and Siouxie inspired vocal.

The ‘Detroit House Guests’ project concept was conceived in the early 2000s and became a reality in 2014 after receiving a John S and James L Knight Foundation grant. The eclectic choice of vocalists, musicians and artists shapes this album into a concoction which will particularly lure the lovers of arty electronica.

It’s not your melodic, well behaved synth; it’s gritty, disjointed and cultured… it’s a very different kind of aesthetic, yet very in keeping with classic Mute offerings.


‘Detroit House Guests’ is released by Mute Artists in double vinyl, download and CD formats

http://www.adultperiod.com/

https://www.facebook.com/adultperiod/

http://mute.com/artists/adult


Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
Photos by Nicola Kuperus
18th March 2017

ADULT. featuring DOUGLAS J McCARTHY They’re Just Words

Their last wonderful album ‘The Way Things Fall’ was described by one keen observer as “a snuff film version of Speak & Spell”.

Having signed to Mute, ADULT. are back with a soon-to-be long player entitled ‘Detroit House Guests’.

As the title suggests, it is a collaborative affair based on the visual artist residency model, with each musician coming to Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller’s studio for a three week period under the premise that they all lived, worked and collaborated together.

The first track to be made public was ‘They’re Just Words’ featuring the vocals of Douglas J McCarthy, frontman of NITZER EBB and also the cousin of Perry McCarthy, the original ‘Top Gear’ Stig. A stark promo video for this slice of mechanical but strangely groovy electro sees the trio in some suitably nocturnal locations, as McCarthy and Kuperus provide a creepy call and response duet.

On ‘They’re Just Words’, Kuperus does a great deadpan take on Siouxisie Sioux, while McCarthy is in particularly good form sounding like an inebriate preacher. He also appears on a second track on the album called ‘We Are A Mirror’.

‘Detroit House Guests’ will feature collaborations with a whole host of musicians and artists including Michael Gira from SWANS, Shannon Funchess from LIGHT ASYLUM, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe aka LICHENS, Austrian thereminist Dorit Chrysler and multi-disciplinary artist Lun*na Menoh.


‘Detroit House Guests’ is released by Mute Artists in double vinyl, download and CD formats on 17th March 2017

http://www.adultperiod.com/

https://www.facebook.com/adultperiod/

http://mute.com/artists/adult


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photo by Nicola Kuperus
8th February 2017

JOHN FOXX 21st Century: A Man, A Woman & A City

“I always seem to write about a man, a woman and a city. It’s because I am an urban creature most of the time”: John Foxx

’21st Century: A Man, A Woman And A City’ is a new compilation that gathers John Foxx’s song based work from since the turn of the millennium. After a hiatus between 1986 to 1995, Foxx has since been extremely prolific, dividing his time between a number of pop-oriented, ambient and soundtrack projects. The first section of this collection is laid out chronologically, beginning with Foxx’s material recorded with Louis Gordon, his main collaborator on his comeback.

‘A Funny Thing’ from 2001’s ‘The Pleasures Of Electricity’ sounds particularly interesting in today’s context, with the jazzier, deep house inflections being quite different from how Foxx is now. But songs like 2005’s beautifully treated ‘Never Let Me Go’ confirmed that Foxx still had that inventive spark.

But it was when Foxx teamed up with synth collector extraordinaire Benge to form JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS that he became fully re-engaged in the electronic pop realm which he helped to pioneer. Using an array of vintage synthesizers, the feisty growl of ‘Catwalk’, the serenity of ‘Interplay’ and the electro-folk of ‘Evergreen’ all possessed a mechanised charm while simultaneously providing some vital correlative warmth. The parent album ‘Interplay’ was possibly Foxx’s most complete and accessible body of work since ‘Metamatic’.

Continuing with the mathematical solution, from the swift follow-up ‘The Shape Of Things’, the fantastically motorik ‘Tides’ came over like an electronic NEU! Meanwhile from the third Maths album ‘Evidence’, the title track in collaboration with THE SOFT MOON was a surreal slice of post-punk psychedelia, like Numan meeting Syd Barrett! But the most complete track Foxx produced in this period turned out to be the grainy, pastoral elegance of ‘Evangeline’ with Finnish producer Jori Hulkkonen.

The main act of ‘21st Century: A Man, A Woman And A City’ concludes with two previously unreleased songs by JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS; both are highly worthy inclusions. ‘A Many Splendoured Thing’ features pristine pulsing sonics with crisp percussive taps a la ‘The Man Machine’; it’s Foxx goes to Kling Klang.

But ‘A Man And A Woman’ throws in a less rigid formula with some loose, hand played electronic percussion and the enchanting voice of Hannah Peel. It’s an interesting departure that even features some subtle acoustic guitar flourishes by Isobel Malins. Continuing on the six string theme, ‘Estrellita’ from the ‘Mirrorball’ album with COCTEAU TWINS’ Robin Guthrie appropriately provides an esoteric musical interlude, before the compilation’s appendix of assorted collaborations and remixes.

Although not a song written by Foxx, his and Benge’s serene reinterpretation of GAZELLE TWIN’s ‘Changelings’ highlighted not only the synthesized magic of the partnership, but also how the influence of Foxx was interwoven seamlessly into the Brighton-based songstress’ art.

Following JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS’ rework of ‘Dresden’, the reciprocal arrangement delivers a previously unreleased OMD remix of ‘The Good Shadow’. Working around its shimmering arpeggio, Paul Humphreys adds more of the beautiful Synth-Werk that made OMD’s last album ‘English Electric’ such a return to form. Meanwhile, the ADULT. Remix of ‘The Shadow Of His Former Self’ naturally takes on a more punky, techno stance.

Originally a solo track from ‘The Shape Of Things’, ‘Talk’ has now become a collaborative platform for Foxx to explore different approaches from a singular idea with other kindred spirits; on ‘21st Century: A Man, A Woman And A City’, two of these are included.

The first is the previously released ‘Talk (Beneath My Dreams)’ version with Matthew Dear; Foxx provides the cascading bass laden intro before Dear adds a steadfast four-to-the floor beat and a deep sinister voiceover, which could be mistaken for a pitch-shifted Foxx.

But the second version is a brand new, long-awaited collaboration with Gary Numan. Numan’s take on the track is meaty. Retitled ‘Talk (Are You Listening To Me?)’, it predictably screams alienation and fully exploits his haunting trademark overtures, courtesy of some blistering Polymoog from Benge.

The end result is like a wonderful audio mutual appreciation society: “John Foxx has been a hero of mine for my entire adult life” said Numan, “It was a real honour to finally have the chance to contribute to one of his tracks… it was every bit as creative, unusual, demanding, and rewarding, as I always expected it to be”.

Foxx is currently in the studio working on new music. Like SPARKS, John Foxx has been so prolific over the years that it can be challenging to keep up with all his releases. But as much as some of his hardcore following have expressed dismay at countless reissues and compilations, Foxx’s work is still under-appreciated, even within the more general circles of electronic pop music.

So for many, ‘21st Century: A Man, A Woman & A City’ will be an opportunity to catch up with the more accessible side of his work from the last 16 years. For those still not entirely convinced of Foxx’s contribution to the synthesized music world, it acts an ideal entry point into some of his best electronically focused work since ‘Metamatic’.


’21st Century: A Man, A Woman & A City’ is released by Metamatic Records as a CD and download on 27th May 2016. A limited deluxe CD+DVD edition is also available and features 11 videos filmed in Tokyo by Macoto Tezka, featuring music by JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS

http://www.metamatic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/johnfoxxmetamatic/

https://twitter.com/foxxmetamedia


Text by Chi Ming Lai
4th May 2016

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