VA: Wait til the Ice Melts

Exponential impressed a few years back with its Collapsing Culture compilation and makes good on its follow-up Wait til the Ice Melts. Though the sub-title New Music from the Lone Star State makes clear the “Texas” theme driving the collection, the contributing artists share little beyond a common locale. The fourteen tracks range from jittery electro-funk (Horizontal K's “URAQTK”) to scalding post-rock (Dance Like Robots' “We Were Vampires”).

Highlights? A.M. Architect's atmospheric head-nod (“Unspoken”) and Mirm's smooth, vibes-sweetened jazztronic flow (“Kan-sha”), for starters. Rae Davis warms the soulful, late-night click-hop of “Pyramids” with a flute spotlight and a pulsating bass line. Crate-digging hip-hop gets a healthy workout in tracks by Makestapes and Diego Bernal: the former's “Outlines” has a jones for piano arpeggios, vaporous synth atmospheres, and crisp beats, while Bernal's “Father's Son” is a wild stutter-funk blend of woozy strings, organ, and guitar shadings. There's also boom-bap of the neck-slapping, percussion-heavy (timbales, bells, congas) sort (Mnolo's “Guerra Futbol”) and of the sparkling, atmospheric kind (Wayside Dream's “Catch as Catch Can”). Exponential head Ernest Gonzales checks in with the surging electronic skip of “Caviar, Cigarettes, Dynamite, & Laserbeams.”

This scenic sonic travelogue of wide-open Texan plains set isn't radical and doesn't re-write the rule-book on compilations but neither constitutes its presumed aim. What it aspires to offer is an hour's worth of fresh electronically-produced portraits by Texas producers and on those more modest terms Wait til the Ice Melts certainly succeeds.

April 2008