VA: Strike 100

Shitkatapult's Strike 100 is not only an ambient-themed collection—hardly what one expects from a Berlin label better known for pile-driving releases by the likes of T.Raumschmiere—but it also offers one satisfying surprise after another, including an audacious re-imagining of Johnny Cash's “I Heard The Lonesome Whistle Blow” by Apparat and a divine shoegaze ballad from Julia Hummer and Pluramon (“If Time Was On My Side”). If anything, Strike 100 (available in double-CD and triple-vinyl formats) reminds me a lot of Mille Plateaux's Electric Ladyland compilations where you never quite knew what you were going to get but knew that the ride would be interesting nonetheless. Also like the Electric Ladyland comps, Strike 100 relies less for its impact on individual songs and more on the cumulative impression. A given track may seem slight when heard in isolation (e.g., “Laissez Faire” by Sun Electric and Bus member Tom Thiel) but gains strength when broached as part of the total offering.

Some of the twenty-five tracks were culled from previous releases and some pulled from the vault but most are exclusives. Label founder Marco Haas takes the opening slot (under the T.Raumschmiere name) for two minutes of kosmische musik swarm and sputter (“Lass Knattern!”) before the Man in Black's lonely croon is heard wafting over the horizon accompanied by Apparat's sweeping atmospheres. Interestingly, many of the collection's strongest cuts are vocal tracks: Das Bierbeben's “Delirium” begins as an exercise in krautrock pulsations before blossoming into a German vocal electro-lullaby; Glassian piano patterns, ethereal female vocals, and strings elevate the already-ascendant lullaby “Brother Of Sleep” by Soap&Skin (Anja Plaschg); Judith Juillerat contributes a dramatic, slow and smoky electronic ballad in “Bo-Peep”; and Hummer's haunting voice pierces Pluramon's searing wall of guitar fire on the already-mentioned “If Time Was On My Side.” Elsewhere, Felix gives us a wistful serenade (“Outside On A Cold Day”), The Orb a trippy ambient-dub setting (“Oopa”), and Frank Bretschneider a ten-minute cover of Jan Jelinek's “Happening Tone” (from the digital-only Hub–Tierbeobachtungen). As its cover indicates, the album teems with the mysterious chatter of tiny forest creatures. In Ben Lauber's “Die Seele,” for example, pretty melodies languorously appear beneath layers of whirr, click, and vinyl crackle while Kero's industrial collage “Noizenov10” is dominated by the ricocheting klang and kerang of Motor City machinery. Aided by remixer DJ Flush (Nico Deuster), Kliketure's Krater contributes a funky sampling of piano-based click-hop (“Viscosity”), Highpoint Lowlife regular Dalglish (Chis Douglas) brings a more aggressive slant on electronic wonderment to the set with “Inoktu,” and Bus (Tom Thiel and Daniel Meteo) closes the collection with an entrancing overhaul of “Westen” by Ag Penthouse (Jörg Burger and Stefan Schwandler). Lots to sink one's teeth into here.

March 2009