VA: Main Control Board

Main Control Board, the latest compilation from the Russian imprint Lagunamuch, perpetuates the concept-oriented approach of its previous collection, Deep Sea Shipping, except now the focus moves in the opposite direction to black space, with all of the mystery that that entails. An undercurrent of sadness runs through the hour-long set, as Alexander Matrosov, the creative force behind the project, passed away a year ago when the project was midway through its two-year production schedule. It's fitting, then, to discover one of his two contributions, the one under the name Alexandroid, appearing at album's end (he also appears halfway through with a track credited to Autopilots). Though the album's material is fairly wide-ranging, it, generally speaking, could be slotted in with the kind of material heard on Tympanik Audio—industrial techno / cyber-electronic IDM, in other words. There are beats but the tracks are hardly minimal techno workouts; instead, there's a heavy emphasis on atmosphere—spectral, gloomy, galaxial, spooky, and so on—with rhythm structures functioning more as cyber-funk underpinning (during Abstract Avenue's “Oxid,” for example) than primary focal points.

First up is an industrial-electro-IDM mood-setter by Indu Mezu vs Flagra called “The Game,” followed by the elastic snap of Speyer's driving tech-house cut “Dust.” Similar contrasts emerge in the compilation's subsequent pieces, with the six furious minutes of pounding rave techno that makes up Autopilots' “Machine” followed by the dark ambient of Nightech's “Grey Strata of Subways,” a howling fuzzball of grainy haze. Pulsating, throbbing, and woozy are but three words that spring to mind while the hyperactive acid-techno of Abstract Avenue's “Kolkster” plays. Much of Main Control Board could be called cinematic with some degree of legitimacy, given the visually suggestive character of haunted settings such as Riverz End's “Main Control Board” and Alexandroid's epic “Station MIR.” Though it's not the only memorable piece, Matrosov's closing one is an especially powerful one, as its final seconds make the album seem, appropriately enough, like it's vanishing into a black hole.

June 2010