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There's no guide or manual for what Mystery Palace does, no easy clockwork formula hidden in the Minneapolis based trio's agenda. Sequenced electronics plus live instruments offer a tough enough row to hoe on their own; when the former come from a pair of heavily circuit-bent Yamaha mid-pro keyboards, opportunities for disaster multiply exponentially.

Luckily, so do opportunities for the sorts of disastrous successes the band enjoys regularly, largely thanks to founder Ryan Olcott's aptitude for riding his profusely toggle-switched brainchildren's outputs like a porn star. Granted, the former 12 Rods frontman has had practice galore, having built and mastered the instruments with the sort of diligence usually encountered only in fantasy novels and large-scale government operations. Only after countless hours of woodshedding and a healthy slew of live dates did he enlist ex Poor Line Condition bassist James Buckley and veteran Vertiform drummer Joey Van Phillips in what must have seemed like a very Quixotic endeavor at the time.

Olcott got lucky. Not only does his rhythm section provide the perfect complement to the remarkably varied profusion of colors and textures he wrenches from his Frankeninstruments (imagine an exceedingly fluid Warp + Mego fusion); like Olcott, Buckley and Phillips are actually capable of responding to the digital critters' powerful surprise-generating capacity so gracefully, you'd never guess the extent of their vigilance. Or maybe that part is all a shuck of sorts. Lately, the whole operation has proceeded so smoothly onstage and in the studio (where the band has proceeded well beyond improvisation, recording elegantly structured songs, complete with vocals) that you can't help but wonder if the keyboards, having grown minds of their own, are merely doing their best to keep the fellas alert. God knows, they are.

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