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January 2021

Sault 5

Another neo soul favourite! Anonymous, no pictures nor videos, no frills (or almost), just grooves, catchy loops, soulful vocals. The approach is… not entirely unlike electronic music? Calling it loop-based / electronic / minimal would be an exaggeration, but I think I can hear a bit of that.

▷ Bandcamp

Denki Groove Dragon

Took me a little time to get into, because unlike their later albums, this one is serious. Not goofy and bouncing all over the place with drunken singing, hyper-energetic trailers for a song that was played earlier or spoken word about space invaders. Well there is “Noi Noi Noi” which is sung in a made-up language (Gowazaam, according to Kentaro Andrew Okura on Discogs), but you couldn't guess that if you don't speak Japanese.

Like JAMOOL points out —

 — you know what, everything I could say about this album would be a paraphrase of his review so I'm just going to link to his guide: Denki Groove: The Complete Album Guide

Basically, if you like poppy electronic dance music with singing à la Underworld or Fatboy Slim, check this band out.

▷ Bandcamp

Lionel Marchetti Planktos

A quintuple musique concrète album about underwater life. Diving into a world of undiscovered and mysterious sound forms, it works as weird ambient music but is also consistently interesting.

▷ Bandcamp

Lionel Marchetti L’ignorance

Or if you want something shorter, this one is great too, only 17 minutes long. And like all AMPLIFY 2020 releases, you can download it for free — it's nice if you can use the WeTransfer link (you'll need to convert and tag the file — you can also get it on Bandcamp, but that costs the organizers/artists a few cents per download).

▷ WeTransfer

Playdead Inside

Limbo was a puzzle platformer with macabre aesthetics, but Inside is more story-driven — dystopic, mysterious, horrific in all kinds of ways. It's minimal and mysterious, an absolute nightmare but with some beautiful parts too. The underwater parts especially, with visions like from a dream. More generally, the stylized graphics make great use of cel shading, empty spaces that feel present, beautiful lighting — the drone/dark ambient soundtrack is solid too. And the story is interesting. (People came up with all kinds of theories about it but I don't want definite answers, I like how it's presented.)

▷ Steam
▷ GameFAQs
▷ Glitchwave

MF DOOM Mm.. Food

MF DOOM might have been too advanced for me sometimes — I could never get into Madvillain for instance. But this one, which sits just a little bit out of my comfort zone but really grabs me when I get around to it, is just great. Packed with cool ideas and unusual tempos and hooks.


Shygirl Alias

Very catchy and very weird hip hop, mixing extreme hedonism (very sexual) with harsh or dark tones that make the EP sound enticing and alien at the same time. Her previous one was a bit too cold but this one is fantastic!

The only flaw being the very off-putting cover art, which isn't the cool little avatar pic I just posted here.

♪ “Slime” (video)
♪ “Tasty” (video)

Dreamcrusher Incinerator

Harsh dance noise. Reminds me a bit of that part in I Am a Lake or Burning Orchids Innocence, except this one is entirely in the club, in your face, plus emotional too towards the end. Excellent for relieving panic or anxiety!

▷ Bandcamp

Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor

Presented as an “anti-adventure”, and it really is one!

Instead of playing as a superhuman badass achieving incredible feats in a grimdark world, you're a no-name, no-skills janitor who has to pick up and incinerate trash every day in a busy, colourful spaceport for a pay that's so lousy you can't even afford healthy food. The story begins as you enter the sewer dungeons on a whim and get cursed within five minutes; your goal now is to get rid of the annoying skull curse. (You won't get to achieve heroic feats doing that.)

It's not for everyone because the gameplay is really repetitive — it's almost all routine work (there's more grinding in this game than in any JRPG I've played), praying you'll get lucky, and even though the spaceport isn't all that big, it's very easy to get lost in it. You also get sick a lot. I still liked it very much because it's bittersweet, cute, and clever in a couple of ways; even the “anti” gameplay gets fun once you get used to it.

(You'll also get to eat a bunch of psychedelic drugs if you want to.)

▷ itch.io
▷ Steam
▷ Glitchwave

Tape Loop Orchestra In a Lonely Place

I was a bit unsure about this one when I first heard it a couple of years ago — layers of lo-fi droney sounds with melancholic melodies are such a cliché in ambient music. (Burying everything in layers of artistic blur is a cheap trick in art in general.) But I keep going back to it, it's a keeper. The last track in particular is gorgeous, the melody is just right — wistful but uplifting, evolving nicely.

▷ Bandcamp

David Lacey / Paul Vogel The British Isles

Free improvisation? Electroacoustic? I'm not sure what that is exactly. But it's rusty and creaky, decayed, sometimes with a little electricity as ominous drones or radio static. It sounds like an exploration of a destroyed town, going through the rubble.

And then there's “Soft Houses”, which at first brings another dimension to the work with its unidentified, eerie drones — ghosts? — but later on includes cars and city noises, though a bit muffled and with some eeriness still (which I'm not sure I like because it contradicts my earlier impressions — but maybe you'll hear it all in a different way).

And then on the final track everything sounds ruined and kinda mysterious and evil too.


Frank Zappa Zappa in New York

It had been years since I played a Zappa album, but that comment I typed about there being both a “hard” and an “easy” version of a same track (isn't it a cool idea?) made me want to play this again and —

Yup, musically I can't deny it, Zappa was a genius. Compositionwise this is brilliant, complex but catchy, jazzy, bluesy, perhaps a bit show-offy too but never to the point that it would hurt the music. It probably helps if you're into experimental music a bit, but if you are, the 1⅔ hours pass so quickly.

What made me stop listening to Zappa all these years is his really crass and offensive humour, which makes me cringe a bit and yeah, you get a big dose of that here. Mostly in the first track, “Titties and Beer”, which I would never play to anyone but is also an incredibly fun song (and a really, really sticky earworm). Guilty pleasure I guess?


Burqa Boyz أسلحة ضخ جاف حدب

BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM *Arabic music* BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM *Arabic music*
*squeaky toy sound* *squeaky toy sound* *squeaky toy sound* *squeaky toy sound*

▷ Bandcamp

Pete Namlook & Dr. Atmo Escape

Dark and psychedelic electronic space music from 1994!

The first tracks are trance, sometimes way harder than I expected from Pete Namlook, before the second half of the first disc gets more ambient (and a bit strange, like how “Trip to Mars” and “Trip from Mars” are the same composition reversed). The second disc is a single, hour-long drifting composition, still dark and psychedelic but a little melancholic too, reminding me a bit of Tangerine Dream at times.


February 2021

Mandible Chatter Food for the Moon

There's a whole world in there,

 starting with an inviting psychedelic rock song,

  then taking unexpected turns to some truly weird and dark places, sometimes rhythmic, sometimes completely alien

   — including a 32-minute track that itself also contains all these different genres —,

    and then it all ends with another nice psychedelic rock song, soft, warm and melancholic.

     And it's cohesive still, like a world that looks very different at night and during the day.


Non Violent Communication Obserwacje

Not exactly dark jazz, but jazz that's focussed on very stark contrasts — very bright against very dark. All about contrasts and energy.


© (Leslie Winer) Witch

Proto-trip hop. Or it might have been one of the very first trip hop albums recorded, if this article by The Quietus is right. Or maybe it's something a bit different, like dub + spoken word?

Cold, ambiguous, mysterious, deadpan (much like Leslie Winer's voice — which was also a perfect fit for CM von Hausswolff's dark drones on their album ). Definitely a grower — this album found its place in my library like ten years ago and nothing else has replaced it, at first I mostly liked the tracks with melodic hooks (like the Neil Young sample on “5”, or “Skin”) but all have grown on me.


Andrea Ritorno

Amazing breakbeat from Ilian Tape — if you've listened to Skee Mask Compro, this one is just as beautiful but less ambient and more focussed on the beats.

▷ Bandcamp

Tetsuya Tsutsui Noise

A three-volume manga thriller, set in a village where a suspicious ex-convict is looking for work in the new black fig plantation that's supposed to bring the village prosperity. It's all tension and mind games — and the drawings are really good too!

There's a French translation available but I'm not sure there's an English one; other works by the same author are available though.


Annette Krebs & Toshimaru Nakamura Siyu

Relatively minimal EAI with shrill, clinical drones — a sound palette that's close to onkyo. I really like how clean yet strange this sounds.


Forces Forces

EBM! Very short, very danceable — “Overland (in My Mind)” is a real banger, probably my single of the month.

▷ Bandcamp

Jarboe Sacrificial Cake

Dark, atmospheric, otherworldly. Presented as a Swans side-project, but although there are songs in common (“Lavender Girl” is also on Swans Are Dead, “Yum Yab” on the same + Soundtracks for the Blind), the sound is quite different; there's a lot of spoken word over dark ambient here, few songs with guitars. As on the Blackmouth album, I'm reminded a little bit of the Silent Hill OSTs at times.


A little random psychedelic weirdness from 1988:

Nanoray ΔPP

Upbeat, chill, with a nice pastel mood — but also very energetic, full of ideas and outstanding sound design!

▷ Bandcamp

Laurent Garnier Laboratoire Mix

Laurent Garnier's Unreasonable Behaviour has been a favourite of mine for a very long time; the other albums I have by him aren't quite as impressive, but his selections for the electronic music exhibition in Paris rekindled my interest for him. And now these two mixes — no frills, no flourishes, no compromises, just solid techno (with a little tech house and trance).


Mark Z. Danielewski House of Leaves

I liked it even more the second time!

This book is best known for its experimental, sometimes disorienting typography and layout, but the story is great too — it's a horror story within a love story within a satire of academic research within... and thus chilling, heartwarming, funny, sad. Perhaps not an easy read, but a really good and original one. Fun too. (The first time I thought the layout got a bit gimmicky at times, with absurdly long enumerations in tiny type nobody will read or pages containing only one or two letters, now I think it's all good.)

Wikipedia tells me this kind of books is called “ergodic literature”, will definitely check more of those out. And maybe give The Familiar a try? It's dauntingly long (5 volumes of 880 pages each) and will remain unfinished (the whole project was supposed to be 27 volumes), but I think I could like this.

Christopher McFall The City of Almost

Truly creepy urban field recordings, where the city sounds like a distant monster. (And so a pretty good soundtrack for reading the horror parts of House of Leaves!)


信仰 [Shinkou] / 地球 [Chikyuu] 新しいエデンジャングル (New Eden / Jungle)

Lush and peaceful ambient; a split release with two long tracks, one in the city, one in the jungle.

▷ Free download

Grails Black Tar Prophecies, Volumes 4–6

Getting back into Grails — they're as good as I remembered them! I've never been that much into post-rock past the first wave (˙O˙Rang, Talk Talk, Disco Inferno), but this band is an exception. No tearjerking sadness here, but psychedelism, Ennio Morricone, dark ambient and other unexpected influences (side projects by band members go from trip hop/instrumental hip hop to stoner metal).

Most of their albums are so catchy they're easy to overplay, but the Black Tar Prophecies series is more experimental and oblique — harder to get into but possibly their best work. The intense “Self-Hypnosis” and noir Twin Peaks-like “Up All Night” here are amazing.

▷ Bandcamp

Grails Doomsdayer's Holiday

... and this one is great too if you want something more melodic. In-your-face psychedelia and theatricals, it even gets heavy and hinting towards metal at times.

▷ Bandcamp

March 2021

I.F. (Intergalactic Federation) 2

Ambient techno goodness from Pete Namlook's FAX +49-69/450464 label — four long, chill, aquatic or spacey tracks with some light dub elements.

▷ Bandcamp (reedition including their previous album, which is sparser and darker — good too but this second one is better!)

Antenne 2

One of the only trip hop bands that I might actually compare to Portishead, as it's more sad than dark — but their sound is also more stripped down, sparse, atmospheric, introspective.

“Like Rain” on #1 sounded exactly like its title — deep melancholy on a slow, lonely rainy day, near-whispered vocals over a rhythmic loop. #3 had more of the colder/experiemental instrumental tracks the project is also interesting for, and #2 is… a little warmer and less sad than the other two, maybe? It begins and ends on brighter notes. “Black Eyed Dog” is beautiful and tender, I really love this song.

▷ Bandcamp

Lussuria Standstill

Industriale illuminato was pretty good but this one is on another level.

A monumental (four hours long) post-industrial ambient album, mysterious, precious, almost psychedelic — sometimes like a more electronic and dreamier :zoviet*france:. A whole city of sound architectures to explore. Released on Dominick Fernow's Hospital Productions label; there is a little industrial harshness here but only as undertones.


UR (Underground Resistance) The Final Frontier

Classic Detroit + acid techno. 1991 sounds like a long time ago but the futuristic thrills here haven't aged a bit!

♪ “The Final Frontier”
▷ Discogs

Biosphere Angel’s Flight

Based on samples from Ludwig van Beethoven's String Quartet No. 14 in C sharp minor.

Didn't get very good ratings, but I really like how ghostly and ambiguous this album sounds. Like being lost in an abandoned, derelict palace with golden frames and mirrors. The last track adds glitch, which makes the strangeness more obvious, but it's all here before too — if you like “hauntological” ambient, give this a try!

(I think this is his third album based on classical samples? But the others are very different — Shenzhou is based on orchestral works by Claude Debussy and is a soothing, nocturnal classic I like to play on a quiet warm summer nights. L'incoronazione di Poppea is glitchy extracts from the Claudio Monteverdi opera — and the weakest record I've heard by him so far, you can definitely skip it. Another Biosphere album that sounds ghostly and eerie is Departed Glories, which I like a lot; it feels like being lost in a forest haunted by ghosts from past legends.)

▷ Bandcamp


A game with beautiful origami-like colourful graphics and a fairy tale setting, in which you play as a girl riding a fox who defeats monsters and makes the word bloom by typing the words that appear on screen. I really liked this! The only flaw is the background story, which takes away a bit of the charm of the game towards the end.

▷ Official website

The 2 We Is 1

Heart-eyed dreaminess and breakbeat hardcore. The first track is based on the Minnie Riperton song, but the highlight here is “We Is 1” with its sing-rapping and soft bleeps and pads.

♪ “Lovin' You”
♪ “We Is 1”
▷ Discogs

Laurie Anderson Big Science

Funny how this album can sound humorous, quirky and melancholic at the same time. Robotic and very human too. Mechanical and dreamlike.

Well, not really melancholic maybe. The lyrics aren't. The finale definitely isn't either, though the finale here is my least favourite part.

Bright Red is melancholic, darker and moodier, and I like it very much as well — but it's a bit less complex and unique than Big Science.

♪ “O Superman” (video)
▷ Bandcamp

A good alternative to David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest if you want a story about tennis and drugs in our modern world! It's also only 9:30 long with psychedelic colourful drawings. (How bad is this comparison, I don't know)

Her other videos are also great and often have a slightly lighter tone. Though all of them are colourful and reflect how messed up our world is.

▷ vewn @ Tumblr

Daphne & Celeste Save the World

Just some light, fun and catchy electropop songs. (I can't say anything about this being their unexpected comeback because I hadn't heard about them before)



A very colourful and punchy collection of sample-based hardcore breaks.

▷ Bandcamp

Chris Raven I Know You Love Me Too!

Woo 90s progressive house/trance!

There's a remix of this on Sasha and John Digweed's Northern Exposure: Expeditions (which is how I know this track); the first mix is great and the second one less memorable, like with the others from the series.

♪ “I Know You Love Me Too!” (Original Mix)
▷ Discogs

RYM 9000

⚠ Don't try this game if you have epilepsy!

A “hyperkinetic” shooter with intense stroboscopic effects everywhere all the time, a colourful psychedelic pixel art style and a pretty cool synthwave soundtrack by Roex that begs to be played LOUD even though it's pretty chill and melodic. How good is the gameplay? I don't know, I'm bad at these games! But I like it and the Steam reviews say “very positive”.

If you bought Ich.io's Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality last year, you already own this.

Also you get an achievement if you crash the game! I have this achievement but haven't figured out how to quit the program normally.

▷ Game page on Itch.io (Linux / OS X / Windows; ⚠ the page also has flashing lights)

Cindytalk In This World

Intense. Visceral. Anger, bitterness, tenderness and sadness turned directly into sounds — not necessarily into songs.

In the first half, the guitars sound almost like noise, the vocals like pure anguish, the drums are ruthless and pummelling. Melodies sometimes find their way inside this hell, but not always. As emotionally intense as it all sounds, it's very experimental too, with a saxophone, a music box, collages, soundscapes, instruments recorded from a distance or distorted in other ways.

All of this is is just part one — and the way this album is divided into two parts, with only the title track fitting on both, is brilliant. The second half is no longer post-punk at all, it's instrumental, atmospheric piano pieces recorded over the debris and rubble. Another stage of grief, or a sad aftermath.

What a world we live in.


PJ Harvey To Bring You My Love

I slept on this one for so long because the cover art didn't speak to me — now it's one of my favourites.

I can relate to Is This Desire? a lot more, as it's more introspective and quieter, about people's lives rather than their relationships, with a few electronic elements; I haven't felt any of the things PJ sings about in To Bring You My Love, which is intense and passionate in so many ways, wistful, blissful, monstrous, tender. But I love both records equally.

♪ “C'mon Billy” (video)
♪ “Down by the Water” (video)

Gimmik Deux nouvelles

A short ambient drone album, serene, multifaceted and beautiful. Thanks to Zograf for the discovery!

▷ Bandcamp

April 2021

Cindytalk touchedRAWKISSEDsour

Either noise, or very shrill and harsh experimental music like Black to Comm Seven Horses for Seven Kings (which was released later, it's just the closest reference I can think of right now). Mostly acoustic sounds (lots of metals) but some electronic ones too, almost-melodies, theatrical drones and percussions, striking dynamics throughout. And one beautiful ambient track in the midst of all that. Amazing.


Chora(s)san Time-Court Mirage Blues Alif Lam Mim

A gorgeous, calm yet intense minimalist piece, heavily inspired by ragas. Performed by a full just intonation ensemble with a brass section, live electronics and three vocalists.

(Also released on Important Records with a slightly different cover in green and red, but I like this blue one better)

▷ Bandcamp

Erika de Casier Essentials

Soothing, dreamy love songs with nice grooves, r'n'b with a nostalgic sound that feels so refreshingly far away from modern chaos and hyperstimulation. And just I love her voice.

▷ Bandcamp

Bubblegum Octopus Perfect Life & Other Stuff

Ooh look at these genres — cybergrind, bitpop and trance metal! And this cover art!

Colourful and crazy and nice, I never thought I'd call a cybergrind album nice but it really is in its way. Harsh with yelled vocals when it needs to be, melodic with clean vocals when it doesn't. It's a collaboration between the artist and his 17-year-old self, with songs about birthdays and circus-like melodies with bitpop sounds.

▷ Bandcamp

Malibu & Femi United in Flames 23/10/2018

Blissful, ethereal ambient trance.

▷ Soundcloud (no download, unfortunately)

Godspeed You! Black Emperor Yanqui U.X.O.

I always really liked the black-and-white, apocalyptic desperado film atmosphere of F♯A♯∞.

Never enjoyed Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada nor Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven all that much though — too much bombast, the triumphant parts don't quite work, the omnipresent sadness begins to sound a bit samey and whiny without the special atmosphere F♯A♯∞ had. So I slept on the rest of their discography until now, save for a bootleg and perhaps one or two tracks.

I was feeling sad and nervous the other day though so I finally came round to giving this a listen. Yeah it's good. Quite intense. “Motherfucker = Redeemer” could be one of their best tracks (and it sounded familiar too, I think it was on that live bootleg?).

But the real pleasant surprise for me here was “George Bush Cut Up While Talking” — a short drone + collage bonus track on the vinyl edition, hypnotic with its repetitions and juxtapositions, interesting in the way it makes the speech sound completely unintelligible while still perfectly recognizable + the applause sound almost like gunshots.

. . .

Two weeks later, I no longer feel in the mood for Yanqui U.X.O. (and probably won't be until a while) but I still listen to “George Bush Cut Up While Talking”. Does anyone know of other tracks like this?

♪ “George Bush Cut Up While Talking”

Swans Swans Are Dead

Live albums are often overrated.

Not this one though. Dark, powerful, impressive — could be the band's best record. Or records, because the two performances definitely sound different — the white disc here feels closer to the colder, experimental collage of Soundtracks for the Blind and has more vocals by Jarboe, while the black one has more energy and feels more like a closer that encompasses the band's whole career. There is some minimal editing to the performances too, like the cut-off to the scream at the end of the black disc, and I quite like this.

“All Lined Up” is my favourite track on Soundtracks for the Blind, and it's my favourite track here too — too powerful to ever fully get used to, cruel but exhilarating sonic shocks.

▷ Bandcamp

Earth Leakage Trip Psychotronic EP

Sounds a bit like early Orbital — only more club oriented and with more drugs. Thanks to Manic for posting this!

♪ “No Idea”
▷ Discogs

Kelly Sue DeConnick & Emma Ríos Pretty Deadly

A mythological, surreal western featuring outcasts, animals, symbolism, reapers and Death — as told by a dead rabbit to a butterfly.

Not always easy to follow but I love this!

▷ Image Comics (You can read the first issue online)

Kaori Suzuki Conduit

Extreme hardcore minimalism — patterns of loud, shrill pure electronic tones going in and out of phase. Sounds more like an audio drug than musical expression. Proceed with caution; you'll know instantly whether you want this or not!

Listen to it loud enough on speakers (if your roommates and neighbours allow it) and you might experience otoacoustic emissions, meaning you'll hear sounds coming out of your ears — a phenomenon that was already explored by Maryanne Amacher.


Kaori Suzuki Newsun

Much more subdued, but also interesting — two strange pieces between drone, minimalism and experimental electronic music. “Elongated Noon” feels a bit like there's a storm coming. “Aubade” sounds almost joyous in a very strange way and has a cool hypnotic stereo effect throughout.

▷ Bandcamp

K-S.H.E Routes Not Roots

Another alias of Terre Thaemlitz a.k.a. DJ Sprinkles.

You could listen to Midtown 120 Blues only for the music without paying too much attention to the subjects discussed, or as an introduction to the genre (it was my introduction to deep house!); this one doesn't make it so easy on you. It's often more minimal, and a few tracks are clearly there for context and stories rather than for the music. It doesn't flow all that smoothly. But this also makes the album more meaningful, personal and interesting. It took me a while to fully get into it, at first I found it a bit hit and miss.

Terre is great at making subdued deep house, and there's a lot of that here — with lots of piano too, which makes it even better. “Down Home Kami-Sakunobe” and “Head (In My Private Lounge, My Pad)” are among her best, truly beautiful tracks.

♪ “Down Home Kami-Sakunobe”
▷ Discogs

Badsista FACT Mix 754

Absolute fire.

It's brutal and experimental like deconstructed club is, but with singing or rapping throughout, and so many genres blended in — it doesn't just build up to a climax but just keeps peaking from deconstructed club to acid to trance to drum and bass and it just keeps going, not a single second is wasted.

▷ FACT (description)
▷ Soundcloud (stream + download)

Extremely OK Games, Ltd. Celeste

Going back to Celeste mountain to find all the strawberries and crystal hearts I had missed the first time!

This could be my favourite game ever, or close to it. The gameplay and level design are so good, and the atmosphere and music are amazing. I don't know if I'll be able to finish it 100% but that's cool, I loved finishing the story and I'm really enjoying my second trip now.

▷ Glitchwave

Jesmyn Ward Savage the Bones

This is why I don't read back covers (even though I sometimes should): I didn't know what the main event of this book was, so when it came up, it really came up as a shock. The novel kept getting better and better too, I haven't read many books that do that.

The Melvins Message Saved / Thank You!

A rhythmic noise + sound collage 7″. Really short (six minutes in all) but good!

(Also Hostile Ambient Takeover, which is one of their best albums. Though the cover colours are ugly.)

▷ RYM (Hostile Ambient Takeover)

O Yuki Conjugate Sunchemical

I didn't even realize this was a remix album before I looked it up — that's how good and cohesive this is! All tracks are reworkings of “Sunchemical” from their album Equator by various artists, so tribal ambient but with more electronic beats; Charles Webster's “Californium” mix really makes it a dancefloor banger, but all the tracks are good.

Thanks to Kites for the recommendation!

▷ Bandcamp

Sleep Resarch Facility Stealth

Sleep Resarch Facility's albums are often based on very specific samples; this one is about a stealth bomber plane, with source recordings taken in an army hangar. Elegant, dark, deceptively smooth yet also strangely menacing.

There's a bonus disc containing a “pre-mix” versions — rawer, more aggressive at times, also a great listen!

▷ Bandcamp

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