Electronic music has long had a reputation for sterility and slickness. When the needle drops on the latest Digweed drama, that accusation holds water. Unbeknownst to most fans/detractors of the likes of the Crystal Method and the Venga Boys, however, underground dance music has relatively rough n' raw roots. Early Chicago house and embryonic Detroit techno were the products of poor to middle-class black kids using cast-off technology, and finding novel uses for devices that poorly served their original purposes. Protools and G4 Powerbooks had nothing to do with "Strings of Life" or "Acid Trax". I have no idea what sort of equipment Susumu Yokota uses, but the music on "Magic Thread" combines the stark bump of early acid house with the dreamy hum of vintage Eno and Cluster. Even on his more accomplished and fleshed-out cds, such as "Sakura", and "Grinning Cat", Yokota casually trims the edges of his samples, and apparently doesn't lose sleep over looped bursts of tape hiss that would make most audio engineers wince. While initially appearing careless, these touches are ultimately revealed as intrinsic components of his invitingly unpretentious style. On this disc, vinyl crackle (sampled as rhythm) and wheezing tape loops take an already offhand artist into realms that are positively lo-fi, as if some early-90s indie rocker decided to ape "Another Green World", instead of "Here Come the Warm Jets". Although most of Yokota's work is loop-based, "Magic Thread" is particularly repetitive. That said, those charmed by the quirky exotica of his later albums may find the landscape a wee bit barren. This certainly isn't the best introduction for the uninitiated (that would be "Grinning Cat"), but there's plenty to savor for fans of Yokota's off-kilter ambience.