VA: Kod.eX

From the darker end of the electronic spectrum comes this twenty-six-track collection of exclusive and unreleased cuts from twenty-seven artists with ties to Hymen, Ad Noiseam, Ant-Zen, and Brume. As selected by DJ Kyronn, the collection's intended as a tribute to artists of the hard electronics-industrial scene who've enabled Kod.eX, a Paris-based, event-hosting organization, to reach four years of age (as of December 2009). The collection serves up two hours of viral settings teeming with subterranean bass throb, heavy breakbeats, and menacing electronic atmosphere.

The opening tracks set the scene: in a patiently executed and effective slice of cinematic mood sculpting, Empusae establishes the album's brooding tone with nightmarish gloomscaping and propulsive beats in “Morbid (Ex-Koded)”; Dither's “D10526” combines King Crimson-oid, John Wetton-esque bass lines with aggressive beats and synth atmospheres; and “Did I Just Eat a Stripper” serves up five writhing minutes of trademark Cdatakill slither. Variations on the general theme follow: goth-punk electronica (replete with harpsichord) from Sonic Area (“Nevermore”), banging hip-hop with shredded vocals and a horror show edge from Le Diktat (“Ennemi Intérieur”), and locomotive industrial-techno by Casual Violence (“Self (Element Abuse Remix)”). Industrial electro-funk (LITH's “Embryo”), fidgety breakcore (Fractional's “Pharsedic”), and pounding paint-peelers (Cenotype's “Unearth Me (Iszoloscope Mix),” Flint-Glass's “Incantation,” Mono No Aware's “As an Intro,” Roger Rotor's “Codeine”) also appear, with the nadir reached in Imminent's squealer “Samba Mit Mir.” While much of it's in a similar industrial-electronic vein, some tracks—not as many as we'd like—offer a refreshing respite from the style: Oil 10's “Solid Sun” ends disc one with a refreshing dose of melodic electro-pop, while Detritus's “Watching the Watchmaker” is a memorable slab of piano-laced gothtronica.

Only one cut qualifies as irredeemably ugly—Chrysalide's “Noize Guerilla (Gangstanoize Remix by Sonic Area)”—(though Nine Inch Nails fans—I'm not one—would probably love it) so you may want to skip it when it shows up in the middle of disc two. To be honest, by the time Chrysalide's track arrived, my interest had already begun to wane but then again I'm not the biggest fan of the genre. The collection is obviously designed for the listener with an insatiable appetite for all things industrial-electronic as opposed to one with merely a passing interest in the style. The latter may find Kod.eX to be more an exercise in endurance than anything else.

January 2010