At the age of twenty-one, Cex, the stage name of Rjyan Kidwell, has already released five records of the ‘experimental techno’ persuasion. "Maryland Mansions" is his latest and also his debut for the legendary indie label Jade Tree Records. Roster variety is not at all a new concept for the Delaware-based company, but Cex brings something new to the discussion no matter what your musical background is.
Even though "Maryland Mansions" only contains eight tracks, trying to summarize the sound of this record is a task best not left to amateurs. It’s not enough to say that every song sounds different, or that there’s an assortment of genres being blended together. Yes, the songs all sound different, as they should, but "Maryland Mansions" is not exactly a fruit salad of different genres. It’s more like a warped version of the genres that it would normally get filed under.
The album first struck me with the second track "Stop Eating" with its crisp hip hop beats and great rap vocals. I wanted to call Cex my new favorite hip hop artist, but that wouldn’t convey the reality of this recording. It’s a part of the Cex psyche that emerges now and again in about half of the eight songs, mostly interwoven with electronic mechanics and a dark, industrial tone that seems to draw from Nine Inch Nails and perhaps, ironically, Marilyn Manson. Come to think of it, it’s not a far cry from another Jade Tree act: Milemarker.
I love the hip hop aspect of Cex, but I won’t hold my breath hoping for his next album to emphasize more of that. Cex has his own agenda. Expecting him to do one thing is like me expecting my cat to come when I call her. My cat doesn’t always do what I want, but I still like my cat. And I like Cex too.