VA: Fuzzy Boombox v. 2
Fuzzy Box Records

Fuzzy Box Records, operated since 1994 by founder Sean O'Neal (aka Flowchart), released its first Boombox comp in 2002. It paired lesser known artists with more recognizable contributors like E*vax and B. Fleischmann, a pattern the second installment echoes with Stars As Eyes and Flowchart the familiar names (although Flowchart's track is, at under a minute, fleeting) alongside fifteen others from Russia, Germany, Switzerland, England, and the United States. The comp's first half hews to a familiar template of warm melodic electro-pop and places Fuzzy Boombox v. 2 in the company of Morr Music's Putting the Morr Back in Morrissey, City Centre Offices' Cashier Escape Route, and Suction Records' Snow Robots compilations. But halfway through, Fuzzy Boombox v. 2 strays from that formula and ventures into more unusual territories. The folk rhythms, acoustic instrumentation, and percussion patterns of Mileva's “Distance is the Elegance” signal this stylistic change, but the expansion is most fully realized by “Raga for the Pale Blue Lights” by Aarktica (with Aaron Spectre), a guitar-driven, vocal-based drone, and the eleven-minute, anthemic synth closer “Pæan” by Fingernail. While Fuzzy Boombox v. 2 is a generous seventy-four minute collection, such largesse often induces listening fatigue over a disc's duration but in this case the expansive breadth of styles prevents interest from flagging. In fact, a stronger cumulative impression emerges than when tracks are assessed individually as most are good, some very good, some satisfactory, and only two that leave genuinely poor impressions. On the very good side, there's Stereosobaka from Izhevsk, Russia whose ‘Psychopill' glistens with reverberant Arovane-like synths and propulsive bass chords, the funky march “When Things Go Wrong” from Stars As Eyes, and Manhattan Hands' brooding “Radio” whose percussive clatter smothers a foghorn of deep melody. Other strong pieces include Headphone Science's “A Burning Rebel Fire” (Rasta voice cut-ups paired with crunchy beats), Velma's “Satisfaction” (airy concoction of creamy multi-part harmonies and guitars), and Tleilaxu's “Jetisoned” (flickering electronics married to hip-hop flavoured beats). Less impressive are Orange Cake Mix's “Beautiful Moriage Vase” (toybox melodies that are a bit too sweet) and “The Murderers Are Among Us” by Ma Chérie For Painting, whose 'conversation' between a normal speaker and vocodered voice sounds silly more than anything else. But, overall, the weak moments are few and brief and the helpings are plentiful so fans of melodic electronica should no doubt find much to enjoy in this particular Boombox.

April 2004