VA: The Reconstruction of Fives

What elevates a compilation above the norm? How about a fabulous line-up of contributors making over favourite tracks from the n5MD catalog in their own signature styles. To celebrate its tenth anniversary, the label has done exactly that in commissioning front-line artists such as Pale Sketcher, Nadja, Jasper TX, and Rafael Anton Irisarri to re-interpret compositions by n5MD stalwarts Proem, Bitcrush, Last Days, Lights Out Asia, and subtractiveLAD, among others.

Pale Sketcher (Justin Broadrick) gives Proem's “Secret Knots” a marvelous makeover, turning the track into a towering five minutes of pounding beats, bass thrust, and sweeping, starlit melodies. Ben Lukas Boysen (Hecq) later covers Proem's “And By Sweet I Mean,” and the results are just as good, with Boysen's piano-and-strings-laden treatment getting maximum dramatic mileage out of the original. Nadja's cover of port-royal's “I Used To Be Sad” begins restrainedly with hushed vocals and ambient washes but the glorious crush comes just as one expects it will about halfway through in a resplendent, slow-motion blaze of guitars and drums. Over an eight-minute span, Jasper TX treats Bitcrush's “Colder” to a massive buildup that eventually decompresses to little more than a peaceful electric piano playing, while Architect (Daniel Myer) digs into Tobias Lilja's “Blood Tracer” with a hard electronic frenzy. On a slightly more becalmed tip, Hologram's “XX” receives a particularly celestial makeover courtesy of Dalot (Maria Papadomanolaki), and the Bersarin Quartett turns in a lovely autumnal rendering of subtractiveLAD's “The Deep and Lovely Quiet.” Worriedaboutsatan's reading of Plastik Joy's “63 (She Was Trying To Sleep....)” is a definite highlight, layering as it does a supple weave of ecstatic string melodies and voices over a simple repeating pattern until the piece blossoms even more halfway through when a churning beat patterns enters. In addition, Winterlight and Boy Is Fiction offer up stirring, anthemic readings of Run_Return's “National Geographic” and Lights Out Asia's “Oh! Toronto,” respectively.

With The Reconstruction of Fives, n5MD pays tribute to its own ten-year run and give its listeners a collection that's as inspired in conception as it musically solid. Would that all compilations might be as good.

January 2011