VA: Music Grows On Trees
Creaked Records

A better-than-average compliation from Creaked that shows signs of the label balancing out its wackier side with some surprisingly straight-faced material. The collection's sixteen cuts cover multiple bases, some of which one would expect from this crew—pop, acid, techno, and house—but some others that come as a bit of a surprise, such as post-rock and soundscaping, plus there's even a few minutes of Graceland-styled African highlife (Jason Waterfalls' high-spirited remix of Joe Galen's “Believe the Weatherman” ). In a seventy-eight-minute compilation that feels anything but slapdash, the Lausanne, Switzerland-based label celebrates its fifth year in operation by featuring established Creaked artists (Larytta, Starting Teeth) alongside new recruits (Joe Galen, Oy, Julien Aubert, Sutekh).

Naturally, there are cuts that are playful and inventive and primed for comic relief, such as Larytta's “The City Walls,” a cheeky house strutter with the foeign-sounding singers stumbling over English words ( “I can't afford a girl like you babe…” ), and Starting Teeth's stab at arcade-fueled electro-pop madness, “The Ball"; Larytta also serves up a melodic sampling of slinky rhythms, funky synth-pop ululating vocal and guitar melodies in “Anal Zone W.”  Cut-up manipulations of Oy's speaking voice (“I want to start thinking positivili because thinking negativili does something destructive to my mood…”) allows “Positivili” to blossom from its purely vocal beginnings into a colorful array of instrumental and vocal merriment.

On the harder tip, Nathan Fake turns Starting Teeth's “Venom” into a serpentine seven minutes of acidy techno, all chattering drum locomotion and writhing synth squeals, while the heaviest track is clearly Mochipet's thunderous “Hi Voltage,” where swarming synth patterns and hammering beats duel with seething vocal choruses and biting rhymes by M.Sayyid (Antipop Consortium). On the “serious” side, there's a slice of epic, guitar-fueled instrumental rock from Opak ( “Back to Paradise”), an intergalactic exercise in dark ambient electronica by Bloodysnowman ( “Creep Sweep”), seven beautifully executed minutes of epic, n5MD-styled electronica from Consor ( “Plaxton Paragon Part 1”), and clubby tech-house that's sleek and percolating by Julien Aubert ( “Ruban”).

February 2010