Austrian electronic experimentalists Farmer Manual comprise a casual collective of musicians, DJs, computer geeks, and net freaks who count music as only one of a number of ongoing projects. The group's identity is as mysterious as the periodic transmissions from their Vienna studios (which began appearing in 1996), but their releases have managed to capture an international audience for their strident bird-flip to dance-based electronic music convention. Released by labels such as Mego, Ash, and Ash sublabel Tray, titles such as "FM," "fsck," and No Backup
(a CD+ title and Mego's first full-length production) have pushed the envelope of musical intelligibility well off the map, spraying burbling, obverse rhythmic structures with blasts of noise and distortion, closely paralleling the approach of Panasonic
or more recent Autechre
. The group's full-length debut, No Backup
, is a collection of drawn-out discombobulations of standard rhythmic and melodic structures, while the 12-inch only "FM" (meant as the vinyl alternative to the CD, but featuring none of the same tracks) contains more than a dozen brief sketches of minimal electro, many ending in lock-grooves (the tracks' bare repetition tend to beg the question of why they bothered with anything beyond a lock in the first place, but...). The group have also dabbled in drum'n'bass-style rhythmic programming (most prominently on their Tray 12-inch "Fsck") and have conducted a number of live Internet broadcasts via their handsome website (at http://www.farmersmanual.co.at).