VA: Festering
Front End Synthetics

Ireland-based Front End Synthetics' hour-long third compilation collects familiar names (Spectac, Rod) and new recruits (Neanderthal, Burning Pig) into a reasonably satisfying label sampler. Filled with merry melodies, jittery wonderlands, and spacey explorations, the album's densely textured pieces unfurl in a swirling, often psychedelic haze. The label's take on IDM is playfully idiosyncratic, Front End Synthetics the kind of label that issues track titles like “The Hay What Came Out of Her Balls” by Dave Nuremberg (Trev O'Reilly from Ambulance) without batting an eye.

Skip the annoying one-minute intro (Heels ov the Bread's “Mr. Jackiobati's”) and move instead to more memorable fare like Spectac's “Pudder,” an unusual collision between spectral IDM and drill'n'bass clatter (and Paul Morrin's first new track since his well-received Rabbid), and Rod's (Rod Morris) understated stroller “Omnidexter.” In between, synths brightly bleat against a lumbering field of scurrying drum clatter in Ambulance's (Dunk Murphy and Trev O'Reilly) “Sorrying” while Ting Chuggy's bubbly meditation “Spiders” sounds like Nino Rota caught in an electronic turnstile. It's all decent enough even if there's nothing here that grabs you by the throat and sends you racing for the disc cover to learn what's playing (The Last Sound's “Swirling Coptic Ruins (edit)” comes close during its more intense later moments). And, with artists focusing more on soundscaping than beats, the modicum of momentum makes the collection occasionally drag too.

June 2006