Freescha: Freeschaland

In some ways, Freeschaland could be seen as the definitive Freescha collection. Though its twenty-three electronic pieces are a rather motley collection on the face of it, the material is nevertheless quintessential Freescha. Disc one exhumes all of the tracks from the group's first three EPs, while disc two collects various web-only tracks, compilation appearances, previously unreleased demos, and outtakes. All of it exudes that languorous, waterlogged vibe, and some tracks push the concept to its zenith by stretching out for as much as eleven minutes.

Throughout the collection, whistling synths weave into rousing mini-symphonies while church organs sing, vocoders rejoice, and drum machine beats click and skip. Redolent of Southern California 's beaches and open spaces, paradisiacal settings like “Making Oranges” and “Premature Come God” reveal how close in hazy spirit Freescha can be to Boards of Canada. The second EP shows hip-hop working its way into Nick Huntington and Michael McGroarty's material: the reverberant boom of a snare-bass drum groove gives the gleaming, candy-coloured church melodies in “Lift” a subtly funky boost, and a lazy head-nodding pulse nicely anchors “Big as a Mouse” too. Highlights include the sing-song carousel melodies that glow within “Holiday Frost,” the lovely piano coda in “The Silver Screen,” and the deep bass synth swarm that drives the heavy funk of “Pequod.” There's even IDM shimmy (“Fanfaire”) and disco (“Live & Learn Me”) but, while such diversions are decent enough, they're less satisfying when heard alongside the dreamier material. Still, the 110-minute release clearly offers no shortage of material for Freescha fans to sink their teeth into.

January 2008