top/left: End Family Separation – Fuzzy Panda Recording Company
top/right: Anthology of Electroacoustic Lebanese Music – Unexplained Sounds
btm/left: Earthen – Cold Spring
btm/right: Sichten 1 – Raster Music
Though we do not review compilations but extremely rarely, there is no denying that some which are floating in the most random air space call out for a serious listen. We located four recent, and forthcoming, that are strong contenders for your attention. The four collections below represent a wide ranging international scope in experimental and electronic music – something for everyone. Some of these albums include exclusive material, and otherwise historically unreleased tracks.
We start with the extremely timely set with a big heart, and a conscience, from Washington DC’s Fuzzy Panda Recording Company and their effort, End Family Separation. This collection includes strong efforts of ambient and abstract works by Tag Cloud, BLK w/BEAR, Small Craft, Insect Factory, and several artists you may not have heard of – but I guarantee you will be excited about the intro. With the immigrant crisis at the US/Mexico border the sense of torn humanity has never been more vibrant in public/political dialogue. This compilation benefits the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES). RAICES’s Legal Representation, Advocacy, and Education Project provides universal representation for released unaccompanied children in Texas.
Last year, there were over 13,000 children who were not represented in immigration court in Texas. All proceeds (minus the amount taken for basic expenses) will go to RAICES’s LEAF fund. There’s some really gorgeous, meditative works here that will have you thinking. Since we are based here in TX, this one gets our full support, particularly on its acoustic merits!
Next up is the new one from Unexplained Sounds Group who have been working extremely diligently on a variety of social media to get listeners engaged. Here they bring an extraordinary Anthology of Electroacoustic Lebanese Music, curated by Raffaele Pezzella (Sonologyst). Lebanese music has a distinct sound due to the country’s unique fusion of Western and Eastern influences. Even Lebanese folk compositions often reference Western contemporary music. After 15 years of civil war and a decade of post war rehabilitation, the situation of alternative art and especially music was very poor in Lebanon.
The experimental music scene in Beirut, may exist in relative geographic isolation from other global movements of a similar ilk, but over the past fifteen years it has become a dynamic hub for a dense concentration of fiercely independent musical voices. This collection includes work that go from orchestral in nature (Marc Codsi, Stress Distress) to strangely fabricated electronic sound effects by Ziad Moukarzel, to gorgeous intricate collages of field recordings by Joseph Doumet. Oh, and there are, get this, nine bonus tracks, rounding the set to twenty tracks. This is a lengthy player that breaks new ground by opening these artists behind the walls of international separation, opened up to new international listeners. It’s a dynamic listen from front to end.
The first in a new series is always an exciting thing, especially from the minds of Raster-Media. Here we have six artists in a set of eighteen tracks hand curated by one of the world’s most exciting electronic musicians, Frank Bretschneider. Sichten 1 brings together artists: Benjamin Brunn, Zavoloka, Mimicof, Pierce Warnecke, Retina.IT and Mads E. Nielsen in a sonic collection like no other this season. Sichten refers both to ‘opinions’ as well as the ‘examination of material’. In loose sequence, we will invite friends and colleagues, but especially music lovers to share their opinions on music with us or to look through their collected materials in order to present music that tends to be out of the focus of current media channels.
Glitch x nu-hip-hop x clicks/hiss/crackle x electro-space-pop x minimal techno. It’s like old fashioned Raster upcycled for right now, a saucy mix under the watchful guise of Bretschneider. Unfold and Framework_12 from Nielsen, alone, are wonderous tracks fueled by minute mystery, so cosmic and leaves you wanting much more from this artist, who for me this is an introduction. Compilations like this serve most powerfully in this light, when you can discover singular works that delightfully pop in your ears. Many of the pieces here do just that.
STILL UNDER WRAPS: And finally, a compilation from UK’s Cold Spring imprint. This is one that all deep listening ears, bathed in the sound of the underground, will want to add to their shelf, Earthen: A Cold Spring Sampler. This was just announced yesterday, so there will be more forthcoming on this twenty-nine track comp packed to the brim with artists you are likely familiar with like house favorites: Coil / The Hafler Trio, Merzbow Official / Genesis Breyer P-Orridge / Penny Rimbaud / Psychic TV / PTV3 / The New Blockaders / Ilpo Väisänen / Official: Lydia Lunch / Steve Albini / TUNNELS OF ĀH / Barry Adamson / Anni Hogan as well as lesser known artists who seem perfectly paired with the old guard to continue this experimental work into the next generation: Sonologyst / Nordvargr / Trepaneringsritualen / khost / The Telescopes (Official) / Vivian Slaughter / Gallhammer / Gorgoroth / Wardruna / Mayuko Hino / ZENI GEVA / Soft Issues and several others.
We don’t know much more at presstime, but this double set features current and forthcoming cult classics from Cold Spring releases (eight tracks are from albums still unreleased) to be housed in a gatefold ecopak along with a few unreleased surprises! A release date for Earthen within 2 weeks – keep your eyes peeled here: coldspring.co.uk.