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The novelty of ancient pre-digital synths randomly gurgling and burping over a typewriterlike techno beat has subsided. But rock ‘n’ roll bands like Trans Am and Six Finger Satellite actually use the wheezing keyboards as initially intended: as musical instruments. Likewise, Add N to X, a mostly instrumental British trio, dares to play its keyboards rather than letting the keyboards play themselves. “We hear harmony in building sites,” says co-founder Barry Smith, and the powerful electronics of the band’s latest, On the Wires of Our Nerves, almost make you believe him. Other than the album intro, “We Are Add N to X,” which features a vocoder-enriched greeting, the band avoids easy kitsch and Kraftwerkisms, preferring heavier drum beats and the street-tough sounds of Suicide. Many of the songs, like “Murmur One” and “Grey Body, Green Gun” have moaning tones that modulate and oscillate wildly like a menacing video game soundtrack. The British single “King Wasp” features a sampled guitar lick from “I’m a King Bee” by bluesman Slim Harpo, as well as a reappearance of the vocoder with one of the X-ers mumbling retro-future blues. Add N to X does provide enough gurgling and burping for those who still crave the sounds of analog indigestion; for everyone else, On the Wires of Our Nerves should provide plenty of

relief.—Christopher Porter