VA: Before We Melt

Before We Melt flexes its “melodic IDM” muscles with an n5MD-styled compilation that's available as a free download from the IVDT site. That the collection begins with a track by n5MD head Mike Cadoo under the Bitcrush name is telling, and one could easily imagine a good number of the other contributors making appearances on Cadoo's label (or Boltfish) too; at the same time, the wintry theme makes Before We Melt seem also very much like a Glacial Movements release. Regardless of the associations it evokes, it's a solid comp and not just because it's free.

Truth be told, there's not a whole lot in the ten tracks we haven't heard before—there's an expected foray or two into textural ambient (Bitcrush's shimmering “Glacial”), pristine IDM (Phylum Sinter's sparkling “Windshelter Skelter” and Lackluster's “Kontulalibrarytrak,” a dramatic, slow-motion ambient-IDM mix of analogue synthesizer melodies and vaporous atmospheres), and instrumental hip-hop (Edison's “Isis and Eve,” which mixes harp melodies and a low-riding hip-hop groove to nice effect)—though some tracks do stand out: Phortran's (Tom Dinchak) “First Snow” offers a poppy and effervescent piano- and drums-driven mix of post-rock and soul-jazz, and also memorable is Nik Jade's “Until December” whose sinuous oboe theme insinuates itself into your memory long after the track's languorous, hip-hop-inflected beat flow ends. Cuts by Electricwest (Patrick Benolkin), Qu.on (Stephen Kwartler), Headphone Science (Dustin Craig), and Set In Sand (Lendin Hopes) round out the presentation. The more cynically-disposed listener might characterize the tracks as second-tier extras from the producers, but it's nevertheless still quality stuff executed with skill, and obviously the price is hard to argue against.

July 2009