VA: Emerging Organisms 2
Tympanik Audio

Like twenty-six advance warnings for the impending nuclear meltdown, Tympanik Audio's second two-disc compilation offers another comprehensive argument for the label's distinctive brand of epic electronica. Those who've been keeping tabs on the year-old label already will be familiar with many of the contributors—Subheim, Stendeck, Flint Glass, Zentriert ins Antlitz, among them—who are joined this time ‘round by kindred spirits from Hymen (Hecq, Architect) and n5MD (Lights Out Asia). Think brooding tracks teeming with crushing programmed beats and viral synth melodies and you're halfway there.

Emerging Organisms 2 certainly starts magnificently with Hecq limiting himself to grandiose symphonic gestures during the heavenly overture “The Glow” but the storm hits quickly and fiercely after that as seething colossi such as Mlada Fronta's “Uuo 118” and Access To Arasaka's “400 Bloc Overground” take the stage. Some of the contributors have the style down to a fine art, Architect's marauding juggernaut “Keks” and Flaque's haunting “Whispers” cases in point. With its blend of mournful vocalizing and downtempo neo-funk rhythms, Subheim's “Take Me Back” proves that his alluring Approach release of last year was no fluke, while Mnemonic's “Prototyp,” with its single-letter title recitation, suggests what the mutant spawn of Kraftwerk and Autechre might sound like.

The even-harder disc two gets off to a roaring start with Stephen James Knight aka Edgey's tribal take on drum'n'bass (“Lodestar”) and Rope's stampeding anthem-from-the-Scottish highlands (“This Flightless Bird (Clipped Wings)”), and then pushes the envelope to a further extreme with Stendeck's throbbing (and ironically-titled) “Lullabies From the Cliff By the Raging Sea” and the pummeling clatter of DJ Hidden's “Things to Come” and Keef Baker's “Bogbrush.” Thankfully, the pressure drops enough to allow room for elegant downtempo cuts such as Tapage's “The Unspoiled” and Lights Out Asia's “Outstretched to the Middle of the Sky.” Changes of pace come from Marching Dynamics' tribal-funk (“Even Blood Is Not Enough”) and Ginormous's slow-as-molasses hip-hop crunch (“Redcliff”).

A few of the release's tracks do worship a little too much at the altar of late-‘90s Autechre (circa LP5 and EP7) but they're the exception, not the rule. For the most part, the artists forge ahead, not divesting themselves wholly of said influence but generally pinning their gaze on the road ahead. Not for the weak of heart, the 144-minute collection takes no prisoners but will seem like a gold-mine of sorts for “hard electronica” devotees. It's certainly a solid representation of all that Tympanik Audio currently stands for.

April 2009