VA: BiP_HOp Generation 6

Philippe Petit's BiP_HOp series has established a superior level of quality throughout its first 5 compilations, and for having presented well-known artists like Phonem, Marumari, Arovane, and Rechenzentrum alongside relative newcomers like Cray, Twine, and Warm Desk. Typically each collection features six artists who are allocated 10 minutes of disk space. In this latest volume, veterans Scanner and Ilpo Vaisänen (one-half of Pansonic) rub shoulders with the lesser-known Bittonic and Battery Operated. This approach guarantees some degree of familiarity for the listener yet also offers something novel and unexpected. As before, all tracks are exclusive to the compilation and come from artists located around the globe. What also distinguishes the BiP_HOp series is that there is no overriding theme or style that might delimit a given volume. Instead, variety and contrast are embraced, the implicit presumption being that the listener is open-minded enough to appreciate a wide range of styles.

Spanish residents Alejandra & Aeron capture the nocturnal ambience of their milieu in “Listening to Radio Rioja Before Going to Sleep,” a dream-like collage of acoustic and digitally processed sounds full of strumming guitars, fuzzy murmuring, and flickering tones. Scanner (Robin Rimbaud) contributes “Thulium Hymn,” a gorgeous, thrumming track with its dulcimer-like chords overlaid by the cut-up babble of speaking voices. Similarly, in “‘Darska,” Rimbaud overlays a stuttering beat with the rising chords of a church organ and voices. Both tracks will satisfy fans of Scanner's existing material but admittedly don't break new ground. Bittonic's (Iris Garrelfs) “Helix 1” begins ominously with insect noises coupled with the dull roar of churning ambient noise amidst the stretched-out groans of a singular female voice. Ilpo Vaisänen's standout “Horna” features waves of echoing splinters strafing the aural landscape, while “Vaara” marries the stiletto electronics typical of Pansonic with an irrepressible percussive funk. Sounding at times like a more sedate clone of DAT Politics, Battery Operated contribute the glitch-ridden “Sois Dwofe” and the clattering beats of “Kloppy.” Angel, comprised of Ilpo Vaisänen and Dirk Dresselhaus (Schneider TM), closes the compilation with “Nr_11,” an improvised, industrial noisefest. While it will delight those with a predilection for raw electronica, others fond of melody and compositional structure will find it less appealing. Still, one must credit Petit for honouring his commitment to present a broad range of approaches and not shying away from the noise end of the sonic spectrum.

So how does volume six ultimately measure up to its predecessors? It's fine, although there may be a minuscule lapse in quality compared to the others. However, volume 5, with its superb contributions from Accelera Deck and Rechenzentrum, is admittedly a tough act to follow. Yet it seems almost more appropriate to judge the series as a whole, as opposed to obsessing over the merits of an individual volume. Assessing the series in this broader manner results in an unreservedly enthusiastic endorsement of its participants and the consistently high quality of their contributions. Challenging listeners' expectations by presenting the unexpected is part of what has kept the series so vital and distinctive. It will no doubt be interesting to see where Petit and his BiP_HOp project venture next.

January 2003