aec.tntk6941358.2 2/24/05 New
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    Luxury Columbia

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Review Text Tomoyuki Tanaka's second album as the Fantastic Plastic Machine, Luxury, multiplies the dance-club influences of its predecessor -- yet fans of that first record might not initially welcome the change. Where Fantastic Plastic Machine felt fresh and almost effortless, Luxury isn't the same glorious rush of sugary hooks and surprisingly elaborate beats. While Tanaka's productions are still impeccable, a few of the tracks feel aimless and repetitive (the album starts with a nine-minute mix of "There Must Be an Angel (Playing With My Heart)," which repeats the same hook ad infinitum and doesn't work nearly as well outside of a club). But with repeated listens, it becomes clearer that Tanaka is also trying to push the boundaries of his sound, exploring more down-tempo territory and concentrating more on creating texture with his mixes. Some of the brighter pop numbers have a muted warmth that gives the illusion of vintage vinyl; there are more vocal effects employed, and more live instrumentation as well. Luxury may be a less immediate album than Fantastic Plastic Machine, but while it's also less consistent, there's still plenty to discover here. ~ Steve Huey

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