VA: Cepheid Variable

VA: Sensitive To Light

October Man

The old saw “Anything given away for free must be of little value” hardly applies to net labels like Sutemos and Boltfish where quality electronic sounds are regularly offered at no or next to no cost. These two compilations suggest Filament and October Man should be added to the ever-growing list.

Cepheid Variable, the debut release from UK-based Filament Recordings, offers an hour-long set of experimental electronic music collected from remote pockets of the globe. Smeared atmospheres, glitch-laden drones, and 12k-styled microscaping from contributors like C-mu (Tokyo-based Chiaki Teranishi), Joalz (Leon Segka), Autistici, and Ozka make up much of the album content, with two of the more notable pieces coming from Boltfish artists: soft croaks emerge from a forest's dense greenery in Cheju's (Wil Bolton) “Coval Lane” while layers of ripples, whirrs, and clicks accumulate into a dense wave in Karmøy's “Glacier.” Other standouts include Ceckj's (Maxim Shubski) “Clashtoy Improvisation 3,” which suggests a brawl erupting in a toy factory, and Zainetica's (Mark Streatfield) electro-dub setting of wrenched synapse firings, “Mothership London.” Anomalously long at nine minutes, Luca Confusione's “Praying not Dreaming not Believing” unfolds as an aggressive barrage of chanting babble and calm organ tones before flaming out in a violent glitch storm.

Favouring glistening melodies and pristine arrangements over abrasive experimentalism, the 100-minute collection Sensitive To Light is almost old-fashioned—invitingly so—in its emphasis on concise, through-composed song forms—the sweetly melodic “Made Up Maps” by October Man ('Dave' and 'Jay' who also head the UK-based October Man), a perfect exemplar of the release's warm style. A pronounced ambient dimension presides over its twenty-two offerings with the second disc the livelier of the two (synths snarl and howl throughout Boc Scadet's epic clanger “Wooded” while a rare sampling of electro-house appears courtesy of Joseph Auer's “Crystal Love”). The material is alternately placid and meditative (Lum's “Mvol,” Octif's sparkling “Tramper,” Cheju 's gleaming “Closing In”), ponderous (Octif's “Splinter”), even euphoric, with Mint's (Boltfish co-owner Murray Fisher) synth wonderland “I Don't Kvetch” a particularly affecting piece of arresting melancholia; Aitänna77 also makes a memorable appearance with two sweet acoustic lullabies. On a more aggressive tip, there's Joseph Auer's Latin-tinged groover “For Us,” Z-arc's “Deimos,” a merger of Eno-styled synths and electro-funk, and Phorm's elegant “Float?”

January 2006