Turing Machine – What Is The Meaning Of What

3 out of 5
Produced by: Abe Seiferth
Label: Temporary Residence
This guy: math rock fan.  This guy pt. 2: not necessarily a DFA fan.
And so I do lament the passing of Jerry Fuchs, drummer of Turing Machine for their first two fasmatic albums, and then I equally lament that he wasn’t able to be fully present for their final (one assumes) release: What Is the Meaning Of What, and that some DFA friends came in to lend their electro / dancefloor talents in his stead.
The TM energy is still there, in the songs / moments that I’d more associate with Fuchs, such as the full-speed-ahead opener of ‘Yeah, C’mon’ – very reminiscent of the laser-vision rawk of debut A New Machine For Living – but the shift in personnel is equally evident on tracks like Lazy Afternoon of the Jaguar, which are mostly cookie-cutter retreads of laid-back DFA beats, albeit with some guitar layering that hints at riffs from Turing Machine’s past…
This vibe actually carries over for most of the remaining album, which means I may be over-attributing the DFA contribution.  Maybe Turing Machine was shifting this way all on their own.  …But then secret track Bovina 02/23/08 kicks in, book-ending the album with another solid slab of a good ol’ fashion instrument attack, and I am back to questioning who contributed what on this disc.
And, for sure, if you dig processed beats with a solid rock backing – indeed, if you’re a fan of anything from the DFA stable – this material will likely work a lot better for you.  For me, it’s a quality listen, but lacking in the you-gotta-hear-this immediacy of Turing Machine, smoothing it out via production and technology for something that’s much smoother for the earholes, and thus perhaps more prone for toe-tapping and head-bobbing (…versus foot-stomping and head-banging).