Compilations for Lockdowns
In these dark days there's never enough compilations, so here's a few I've been digging recently
The White Collection
The White Collection is a really lovely laid back collection of downbeat electronica from Belgian label Eskimo Recordings, celebrating 20 years - one for fans of Royksopp, who will particularly enjoy the tracks by Antenna, NTEIBINT and Julian Hival. As the label describes:
14 tracks of leftfield electronic music drawn from 9 different countries, covering everything from cosmic disco to industrial sounding techno via Middle Eastern inspired house music and psychedelic electronic dub. Quite a few new faces in there too for those seeking discovery.
Another birthday celebration, Barcelona-based label Lapsus Records has compiled Quinze (Spanish for fifteen innit) with a track for each year in business. And it oozes quality from start to finish. All unreleased music from many celebrated names, including Steve Hauschildt, Telefon Tel Aviv, Pye Corner Audio and Karen Gwyer.
I've not had a proper listen to the 45 tracks on this mammoth three-part compilation from UK label Lobster Theremin yet but I suspect I'll be dipping in and out over the coming months. Peace, Love, Unity & Respect (PLUR) was compiled for the recent Bandcamp fee-waiving exercise with all funds raised going to charity (and some of the contributing artists). While you'll find tracks from folk like Ben Sims, Norwell, Imre Kiss, Serena Butler, Throwing Snow this is a prime opportunity for discovering new blood among a rich pool of new artists (to me at least) covering House, Techno, Electro, Jungle, Ambient, Breakbeat, Garage and all the cracks inbetween.
A compilation of singles released over the last few months by a label based in Greenland (?!) called Intellitronic Bubble. The general vibe is Drexciya, which may be all you need to know. However, 006010 opens with a Milieu track that riffs off the 80s hit by Jermaine Stewart, We Don't Need To Take Our Clothes Off, and ain't particularly Drexcian but it's still pretty good. Then it switches to a more serious mode with _Nyquist contributing two of the strongest tracks (the second one in collaboration with Norken). G-Prod also takes credit for two tracks, each working a lovely lo-fi Electro vibe. Elsewhere Scape One delivers dreamy Detroit Techno but the most intriguing track is from Devin Underwood, under his Devroka guise, with some delicious Dub Techno shot through with Drexciya-style vocals - it's excellent.
Fourth compilation of tracks from artists associated with DEEK Recordings, the label run by Nathan Jenkins, aka Bullion. They're all cover versions (deliciously left-field at that too) and remain true to the label's
pop, not slop! ethos. Highlights of 4 Down include Westerman's take on Paul Simon's Kathy's Song and System Olympia's fragile rendition of Mazzy Star's Fade Into You. M.T. Hadley lends Elliott Smith's Easy Way Out a lighter touch while Bullion's contribution, a Bill Withers track called Heartbreak Road, showcases his easy-going, effortless vocal style. Fans of Nathan Micay's progressive electronic music may be (pleasantly) surprised with his country-tinged, head-nodding track (with Ben Osborne).
From Above Vol 2
From Above Vol 2, the second compilation from French label Lumière Noire, sees label boss Chloé selecting thirteen strong tracks and sequencing them like an album. The result is a very listenable "LP" that works a pleasing narrative arc with big, emotional instrumentals perfectly balanced with more upbeat tracks. Plenty of highlights and practically no filler.
This eight-track compilation came out last September (2019) and it's still on rotation now ('nuff said surely?). If you like your Electro rugged and melodic with a Detroit Techno flavour, then Phalanx Pt.2 from tiny Welsh label Typeless is essential. The short playlist indicates that there's no room for filler here but for clarity: every track is excellent. Notable artists involved include Datawave and Paul Blackford.
Mystery Circles - Compilation Vol. 1
Compilation Vol 1 is ten strong tracks from artists new to me and not afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves, collectively making a cosmic style of Ambient Electronica. I love the wonky melody on Lines Heading Off Into the Hands of People by BlankFor.ms and the maipulated piano chords on closer Between Violet and Green by Dissolve in Sepia. The shadow of Four Tet looms over Shipwreck Detective's broken beats (Nebraska) and my highlight is the BOC-indebted C'est L'Amour by viñu-vinu with it's shuffling Hip-Hop rhythms.
The Warmest Hum
The Warmest Hum is nearly two hours of very deep background music, Experimental and Ambient in style, ideal for contemplation, self-isolation and working at the keyboard. Across the twenty tracks only a few names stand out including Isorinne, Thet Liturgiske Owäsendet, Machinefabriek and Crosspolar.
Ghostly Swim 3
Like Quinze, the contributors on this third selection from Ghostly International will be familiar to most, including Bogdan Raczynski, Bullion, Aquarian and DJ Python. It's still 'name your price' if you're really strapped for cash.