Y9 (Nine Years Of Psychonavigation Records)
What at first glance might seem a lazy plundering of the Psychonavigation vaults turns out to be something rather more satisfying, not so much due to the compilation material itself but more the manner of its presentation: rather than simply cherry-picking tracks from the label's catalogue, Psychonavigation head Keith Downey mixed the collection's sixteen tracks live on May 22, 2009 into a generally seamless suite that creates a powerful sense of cohesion where one might normally encounter very little. Perhaps the result shouldn't surprise as much as it does, given that Downey is also recognized as a Dublin DJ and consequently brings well-honed mixing skills to the project.
Since its 2000 birth, Psychonavigation has issued quality material from artists in close proximity to its Ireland base as well as international musicians from around the world, a geographical reach mirrored on Y9 by the equally broad stylistic ground covered. What we get, then, is a seventy-seven-minute compilation that includes tracks from the label's first release, ‘Psychonavigation' The Compilation (the laid-back hip-hop sparkle of Buckminster Fuzeboard's “Local Tone”) as well as samplings of forthcoming albums (Brawdcast's “Soulsearch,” from the label's thirty-second release, The Quest for Human Completion).
Following a clearly-defined trajectory, the album moves from an initially restrained first half into an occasionally harder-edged second. With the exception of R.S.A.G.'s raucous “Talk Back Crawl Back,” the collection largely steers clear of anything too aggressive, opting more for meditative electronic settings of a generally serenading character (GEL-SOL's “Your Day In The Sun,” Sean Quinn's “Im Here (Twice)”) with an occasional nod to instrumental hip-hop-based tracks (some, such as Matthew Devereux's “I Love You Like a Robot,” bridge the two). The analog synth-based electronica of “What A Wonderful Life” by the late Roddy Monks soothes and softly pulsates in equal measure, while Tiny Magnetic Pets brings a Ms. John Soda-styled sampling of entrancing electro-pop balladry to the proceedings in “Spinning.” Aza & Eoin gives the lushly orchestrated instrumental hip-hop of “Miles & Miles” a jazzy edge with the inclusion of a muted trumpet soloist, after which Enrico Coniglio's “W & J Theme” perpetuates the theme by spotlighting the distinctive flute-like moan of Arve Henriksen's own trumpet playing.Lackluster adds some welcome kick to the album in his percolating remix of eedl's “Too Few Arguments,” after which PP Roy brings the hip-hop funk to “Cop Theme,” a bass-heavy exercise in sampledelic design. A Sade fragment loops dizzyingly behind an MC's flow during Brawdcast's hip-hop throwdown “Soulsearch,” followed by the album's only let-down, The Soul Gun Warriors' “Sloth,” which seems a tad too melodically woozy and loosely executed for this otherwise polished collection. Neverthless, anyone checking out the release will be presented with irrefutable evidence of Psychonavigation's range.