VA: Hazardous Materials
The Consumers Research & Development Label

Is there anything that distinguishes The Consumers Research & Development Label's Hazardous Materials from other labels' comps? Celebrating the diversity of its roster doesn't make the three year-old label much different from other imprints similarly intent on showcasing their artists' products. And though Hazardous Materials runs a generous fifteen tracks and sixty-six minutes, there's nothing too unusual about that either. What does distinguish it is the disc's sound, specifically when artists like The Timeout Drawer, Mr. Projectile, and Caural contribute crushing tracks that run the stylistic gamut from hip-hop to techno to synth-funk to post-rock.

With its walloping beats and furious scratching, Innerstance.Beatbox sets the bar ridiculously high at the outset with the neck-snapper “Helium Disco.” Hip-hop flavour returns with the pummeling rhythms of Salvo Beta's synth-heavy grinder “The Final Punter” and a breaks interlude from Single Minded Pros. Caural's beautiful commingling of slurred synth slabs and crisp beats in “She's Everywhere I Look” almost defies description while TStewart (Travis Stewart aka Machine Drum and Syndrone) takes “Heartful” for a breathless breakcore ride. Calling Del Rey's “There is Some X Such That X Loves” and The Timeout Drawer's “North, Virginia” post-rock hardly does justice to the aggressive wail of their respective songs while, on the dubby tip, Mark Denardo and Miles Tilmann convene for a strolling excursion swathed in layers of acoustic guitar and percussion. Hazardous Materials includes a healthy smattering of techno too: Atom Heat gives Detalles' “Solm” a minimal stutter-funk remix, Miles Tilmann drags String Theory's “Dregs” through a grimy techno shredder, and Huntley Miller gives Tilmann's “I've Already Forgotten” a sparkling Cepia overhaul.

Just remember to cover the kids' ears when the closing tracks by Single Minded Pros and Stunt Rock drop (though you've got to love the latter's title choice “Geoffrey Rejected My Two Track Submissions, So I Gave Him This Old Sample Collage from 5 Years Ago, Then He Had the Nerve to Ask Me to make it in Stereo”).

October 2005