SEED X: Part I - III
It's not clear why Seed Records chose to release its tenth anniversary set in three separate CD cases rather than as a single, multi-volume package, but doing so has at least one advantage: Seed X allows the discerning or cash-strapped consumer to select the volumes he or she desires. To help the decision-making process along, we'll do some comparison shopping as we scan the discs' thirty wide-ranging exclusives.
The first volume opens dauntingly with the bruising sludgefest of Jazzfinger's “Bumblepump” but the dark cloud passes the moment The Dagger Brothers' “Release The Thunderball” hits. Combining overly dramatic vocals and bright synthesizer riffs, the tune sounds like something Frank Zappa might be doing were he still with us. On the plus side, we've got the heavily synthesized merriment of Skitanja's blissed-out “Sedan,” the hyperactive electro-funk of Romvelope' “Timbalandrover,” and Tobias D. Schmidt and Lady Miss C's disco-funk jam “Some Kind of Disco”; on the down side, skip the channel-surfing noise-collage “Vaginas or Not”—two minutes of my life I'd like back. The first volume's picks-of-the-litter are “Juno Chords,” a burbling sampling of dub-inflected techno by Andreas Tilliander, and, best of all, The Shepardtones' “Reichatronics,” less an academic homage to Steve Reich and more a pulsating slice of radiant space-disco whose synthetic fire lights up the skies for nine glorious minutes.
Volume two's got its share of choice moments too, starting with Machars Action's three-minute overture of gaseous soundscaping (“Viscous Attacks”) and carrying on into Unit Black Flight's motorik blend of kosmische musik and space-disco (“Not Named”). Leapfrog over Dethscalator's mix of grungy howl and mangled distortion (“You Know Nothing About Cars or Martial Arts”) and proceed directly to the disc's second half where the stronger cuts reside: Cursor Miner's “Devils In The Details” skips dazedly, its synth-funk groove bolstered by a raconteur-like vocal drawl; Posthuman serves up menacing techno-funk (“One Wrong Turn Deserves Another”); and Seed's resident Italo don Antoni Maiovvi does the honours with “La Vincenda di Amore,” nine minutes of super-charged synth melodies, vocoders, and disco basslines. There's nothing shabby about Dave Tarrida's tight techno throwdown “Meat Beat” either.
As unpleasant as it is, don't let the two minutes of screeching and squealing noise that begins volume three (Snakefork's “Untitled”) send you running in the opposite direction as plenty of good stuff appears after it. Having gotten things rolling with an “I Want Candy” tribal pulse, Capracara's “Panic Beats” opts for Italo techno thrust, after which Standard Planets achieves lift-off with the space-rock stomp of “Count Down To The Mouth O'Bourne”; Yard does much the same with the driving synthetics of “Waves of Love.” Woody McBride pricks up one's ears in “Der Wierd” with the pounding, cymbal-driven slam of old-school techno, while the genre gets respectively jaunty and raving workouts in cuts by Bauri (“You Are Not Here”) and Jaques Lueder (“Crash”). There's little chance of nodding off when The Doubtful Guest's typhoon of acid madness “Noxic” shows up near disc's end.
So unless you're the ultra-rare character who likes everything, not all of Seed X will appeal, but there's certainly more than enough good stuff to offset the occasional stumble. One is perhaps best to resist comparying the volumes and instead treat the set as a totality. On such grounds, it's an oft-satisfying collection that captures in a single package the breadth of the Seed Records vision. And at the very least an award of some sort should be in the offing for any label that's still standing after ten years in the music game.