VA: London Electrics Volume One
London Electrics Labels

When six labels convene to showcase individual talents, one almost expects an aggressive onslaught with each one vying for the listener's attention. How pleasing to discover, then, that the six labels comprising London electrics Volume One—Ai, Expanding, Highpoint Lowlife, Seed, SRL (Suburb Record label), and Uncharted Audio—adopt a less obvious strategy. In lieu of seething noise, the collection opens with the delicate melancholia of Benge's (Ben Edwards) “Panhard,” its clicking pulses and soft bass pads overlaid by hazy washes that recall the sound of Edwards' Tennis partner si.cut-db, and follows it with the glistening keys of Bovaflux's “Kleine” and Blamstrain's hauntingly atmospheric “Lumi.”

Not all tracks are as peaceful, however. Fisk Industries' brooding “Largo Winch” lurches with a punchy dystopic snap while mournful vocalizing alternates with clattering mechano-throbs in Posthuman's “Fall of Empire”; Seed's other contribution, Digitonal's “Cantus V,” merges clicking pulses with dense clusters of sombre string tones to equally dramatic effect. Other highlights: driven by gulping bass synths and handclaps, Jacen Solo's funk-soul groover “Abstract Soul” upholds Ai's rep for sleek elegance, and, in Scanner-like manner, LJ Kruzer's lovely “What was your day like” weaves mournful themes around looped samples of a married couple's banal conversation.

With the smeary textures of Vessel's “State” the rare hint of glitch, the comp's focus on melodic compositional structures makes the clicks'n'cuts era seem like a distant memory while Line's vocal-based electro-pop (“A Mistake”) only makes the other material sound that much more forward-looking. With each London-based imprint contributing two exclusives, the hour-long collection (the first in a proposed series, incidentally) impresses as a fine sampler of current UK electronica.

October 2005