Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep: Various Artists : "Electronica Unplugged" (Aerotone)

Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep

Friday, January 12, 2007

Various Artists : "Electronica Unplugged" (Aerotone)

Aerotone is a netlabel based in Munich, Germany that has started a new series in free audio aiming to "take care" of electronic influenced music. This netlabel is in its infancy stage, with "Electronica Unplugged", being just its fifth release. However, what Aerotone lacks in experience it makes it up with, with an astonishing amount of ambition.

"Electronica Unplugged" is,unsurprisingly, a compilation (featuring ten artists) that use analogue instrumentation within electronica structures (although a few of the tracks here also feature some programming or digital manipulation). Aerotone have attempted to document the idea of heartfelt electronic compositions. Labels such as Type, Neo Ouija, Herb Recordings and n5md feature many artists that make use of handmade sounds. On this release, Aerotone have brought together an international band of artists who make use of instruments such as violins, accordions and guitars. Moreover, this is intended to be a regular compilation series, with the second installment already starting to take shape.

As mentioned before, some of the ten compositions here incorporate electronic elements, but it is the arrangements that shy away from that style of production that leave their mark here.

Opening with Melbourne, Australia trio
Winterpark’sNunns Rd”, the compilation starts with sparse and lonely piano as swirling, chanting arrangements push into the mix. The hazy production suggests a Fennesz influence, but the music owes more to Deaf Center. The lavish, cinematic ending ensures this is an outstanding start.

Next up, is the
Banjo Consortium, which is a name that may evoke images of a bunch of farmer’s jamming away in a barn. But nothing could be further from the truth. This collective from the French-speaking part of Canada, Quebec, employ a myriad of guitars with glacial synths. Percussion that sounds as if it is procured from the base of the guitar launches this track forward. Although, almost being completely made out of analogue instruments, there is something about this arrangement that recalls Radiohead’s more experimental moments on “Kid A”.

Leander have featured on an Aerotone release before and they mix interesting programming with some lovely acoustic guitar work and under-stated vocals. However, “Directions” is far to close to the sound of fellow German Phon°noir . Puerto Rican, Arturo en el Barco provides “Mi Barco”, which is strongly influenced by Piana. It sounds as if it was recorded in a massive cave, with huge reverbed vocals that are capped off with some soft beats towards the end.

Roll Film is a sometimes collaborator with The Album Leaf, but the outdated drumbeat combined with some violin work doesn’t really do anything for me. Having said that, though, “The Sell” does produce a nice change of pace, and is one of the more up-tempo numbers on “Electronica Unplugged”.

The Bersarin-Quartett, from Munster, Germany, could claim to have the most outstanding composition on this release. “St Petersburg” is a glorious arrangement that progresses from a grand, cinematic piecet right into a timeless Type Records style slice of electronic sounds.

As the first strains of “Dawn and Echoes” by
Cantaloup can be heard, I was left disappointed by the fact that it was yet another introspective instrumental track, a genre that really is lacking ideas at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, the instrumentation is perfectly executed, but it wasn’t until the lush female vocals pushed their way into the mix that this track moved from the mundane to the amazing. This unexpected turn makes this piece one of the strongest tracks on “Electronica Unplugged”.

Akira Kosemura contribution “Drop” is a tad monotonous, with more sparse piano and accordion sounds that continue a lulling theme with some child voice samples fro around three minutes. While, Teamforest’s folky, “Leave This Town”, leaves you wanting more than the four minutes or so provided here.

It’s left to New York native,
Virculum to end things and he does an excellent job with “Wwlit Alma”. Which is an amazing track, full of chiming keys and an optimistic bass solo. It works in perfect contrast to some of the more sparser selection here.

The Aerotone Netlabel have ambition in abundance and “Electronica Unplugged” reinforces this statement. Most of these artists are unsigned, yet there are some splendid moments. Winterpark, Bersarin-Quarter, Cantaloup and Virculum certainly show there is plenty of great, untapped music out there. The next release in this series should be just as spectacular

Rating = 83%

You can download "Electronica Unplugged" completely free here

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