VA: Idea Hoard Uncut
Uncharted Audio

Some label compilations are rather po-faced affairs, with artists striving to achieve varying levels of profundity in their contributions—not that there's anything wrong with that. But how refreshing to discover Uncharted Audio pursuing an altogether more playful vibe on its Idea Hoard Uncut collection (all tracks but one are released for the first time, with pieces authored by those who've appeared at the label's ‘Uncharted Sessions' in west London). Don't get the wrong idea: there's seriousness all right but seriousness used in the service of polished execution and results, which still leaves ample room for off-kilter eccentricities and wackiness.

And wacky some of it assuredly is, especially the opener “Do You Love It?” where a chanting John Callaghan spars with a psychotically drooling Susan Huxtable (the song's samples are excerpted from Meredith Monk's “The Tale”). Equally high-spirited are the slippery electro-shuffle, driving dub, and greasy bossa-nova that arrive courtesy of Cursor Miner, Kone-R, and The Council Flats of Kingsbury. Schmoof and Freezepop handle the robotic synth-pop end of the spectrum while Line (Neil Wells) and Treewave prepare ravishing dishes from synth-pop and shoegaze ingredients. Some opt for more experimental routes: The Square Root of Evil (Jen Pearson) burns up the rubbery synth track in “You Can't Kill Me,” and a vocalist, his throat clogged with gravel, struggles to survive industrial quicksand in “First Girl on the Fire.” Mention must also be made of Manilla's infectious rap-driven cornucopia of steamy horns and funky beats (“Lorenzo”) and Villain's electro-breaks visit to the S&M chamber (“Turkoise”). As eclectic as Idea Hoard Uncut is, though, one of the collection's strongest moments is also one of its most restrained: LJ Kruzer's (Stephen Fiske) “Huba,” a gentle setting of piano-based elegance and a dreamy respite from the otherwise serious fun.

October 2006