To kick off my first reviews of June, here is a triple set of compilations that have come across the radar at Toneshift.
First is on a new label, Subject To Restrictions Discs. The “Kampf Der Welten EP” is a sampler of sorts, a mission statement to showcase this fresh imprint that deals with synth-led dance music. Not straight up techno or house, more along the lines of synth-pop and New Wave. There are flourishes of Electro here and there too, and a heavy emphasis on melody throughout.
The first track is by 84 And Beyond, which loops vocal samples and busy, bass-driven breakbeats over dark synths. “Terrestrial” by Cclinic is a darker, more Electro-infused track that is pure night-drive music. All the tracks have a very analogue feel, and an old school drum machine fetish. The b-side begins with “Limit” by L.D.R. and ops for a New Wave/Electro crossover. Neu Verboten offers up the title track to the EP with vocoded vocals and panning hi hats that swirl over an otherwise pretty rigid 4/4 pulse. Last track on the EP is “Leave The World Behind And Don’t Look Back” by 486SX, the most melodic track on the collection. An unashamedly funky bassline bubbles under fat snares and synth splashes that could be from the 1980s.
A very different compilation is released on the Flaming Pines label. Kaleidscope – Ukrainian Compilation has been curated by Igor Yalivec that continues his relationship with the Gamardah Fungus duo, who have previously released on the label. The collection presents a wide range of experimental music from Ukraine and there is a real richness here that is probably just skimming the surface of the country’s output.
Alla Zagaykevych opens the collection with Voice Way, a haunting piece of processed vocals that combine with drones that invoke images of reversed cymbals fed through reverb. It sets the stage nicely. Other artists follow a similar, droning path, such as Endless Melancholy, whose contribution is a stretched out, immersive wash of synths and subtle distortion, all kept afloat by warm pads. Some tracks are little vignettes of sparse melody, like Heinali’s “Partita For Two STOs” that bleeps and bloops beautifully, and Kayak’s “Astra” that weaves pin-prick beats into a fabric of delicate melodies.
Other artists’ pieces are ambient and experimental, like the aforementioned Gamardah Fungus who present “Memories”, a blissed-out track of melodic drones and field recordings. And Andrey Kiritchenko, the most recognizable name on the album’s roster, who offers “Flux”, a track that veers between gorgeous, warm tones and more buzzing and random sounds that he somehow manages to balance before a marching beat strolls into the picture. Overall it’s an ear-opening collection that points to a very fertile scene within the experimental music world, and I hope that Yalivec will curate a follow-up in the future to explore more out-there sounds from Ukraine.
The last compilation here represents outer limit sounds from Barcelona and is presented by the Zona Watusa label. “Zona Confusa – A slice of the Barcelona Underground” kicks off with its first track by Alozeau, whose “Fngrd” bursts into violent life with a diatribe shouted by a girl railing against sexism that I can’t figure out if it’s a sample from a movie or the vocals from their singer? Either way, it gets your attention and not by half. A wall of noise builds around the exclamations, gradually drowning out the voice and swallowing it in its fury. Wow, what an opening track! The following track is by Espacio Profundo and calms the listener’s nerves with a much lighter piece of squiggly ambience. It’s abstract but somehow becomes a bit of an ear worm, burrowing into your brain and staying in your ears after the track is done. Just from these two opening tracks, an impressive variety is on show here.
Turing Tarpit’s “Conte De La Grand-Märe Et Ràve De l’Enfant” is an experiment in processed guitar and electronics and Blood Quartet serve up an impressionistic free jazz track in “Ghost Train 11” that recalls the same mood as Norwegian jazz satellites Supersilent. Vasco Trilla’s “Solenoid (Percussion solo)” is polemic in its title, presenting a soundscape created by percussion only. The collection ends with “Casi” by Sun Color feat. Almudena Vega, an ambient track made of disparate sounds that zig and zag over spoken Spanish word that is the perfect way to close this very intriguing set of tracks.