CD, Electr-Ohm, 2008
In 2006 Electr-Ohm released their first compilation featuring 13 international artists from seven different countries. Late in 2008, the label released the second volume in the series, logically titled “Electr-Ohm Compilation 2”. This compilation focuses on tracks from five Japanese experimental electronic and rhythmic noise artists. Held in a small DVD style case and limited to 1000 copies, the compilation contains two tracks from symphonyspace and three each from Ordinateur, Electr-Ohm label head Sunao Inami, Aklihiro Yokotani and Kezzardix.
The first Electr-Ohm compilation was well received and critically acclaimed so the second compilation has a reputation to maintain. Sunao Inami’s ability to select interesting tracks from talented artists does not disappoint as he again opts for tracks from a group of varied but not disparate artists. Ordinateur’s “Cursor” has an interesting sound that combines crisp thudding rhythmic noise with a discrete backdrop of undulating ambience. The end result is a mix of sharp energetic urgency mixed with hazy tranquillity. His track “Agnostic Radioactivity” is where he really lets loose with a torrent of pounding industrial beats augmented from time to time with almost spiritual melodies. Switching emphasis again, Ordinateur’s last track “Deathperate Option (Edit)” is a deep bassy distorted track that slowly trudges along with relentless determination, slowly building in pace with an undeniably addictive quality and movie soundtrack piano interludes. Electr-Ohm label head and artist in his own right Sunao Inami heads down a cleaner, more clinical path with a distinctly more experimental attitude. His tracks are not dissimilar to Ordinateur’s but have an abstract IDM quality to them with less rhythm or linear structure but are no less interesting or enjoyable. Inami’s “Stricken” could almost be an experimental electronic interpretation of a classic 80’s arcade game while “Be Late Again” has a more pulsating techno loop over sharp IDM beats and trickery that slowly transform it into a radical rework of itself. Inami’s final track, “Drain Your Glass”, is similar in structure to “Be Late Again” but with a much more distorted and deeper bass and noise influenced aspects that rumble and blip away in true experimental style. This final track sits between Inami’s two earlier tracks stylistically but with a healthy dose of noise experimentation thrown in.
The three tracks from Yokotani are bassy and full of glitch experimentation that falls more on the experimental ambient side of things than the noise or IDM side of the collection. His first track, “I Know Everyone Hate Me” is weirdly disorientating through the use of distorted glitch and psychedelic electronic effects while “3008” is full of computerised blips and bloops juxtaposed with stark futuristic ambience. It is Yokotani’s final track – the creatively titled “Cyborg Ape Googled ‘Real Bananas” – that is the real stand-out track of his contributions. Although it still features the glitch rhythms of his other tracks (particularly in the second half) it is primarily a classic IDM track influenced by the Warp’s “Artificial Intelligence” era. Kezzardrix follows a similar route to Yokotani but is more cognisant of rhythm and loops whilst incorporating relatively toned down glitch elements and an array of weird electronic sounds and effects. Kezzardrix’s final track is his most experimental and takes the rhythmic qualities already seen in his two previous contributions and treats with a dose of distortion and additional glitch experimentation. Symphonyspace, the last of the contributors, are a different prospect again; focusing on bassy IDM breaks and strange manipulated sounds his style is disorientating and slightly confusing at first as it hits with an array of apparently unrelated sounds. Less unusual is his second track, “PIO”, the longest track on the CD at over eight minutes, that is a busy track with busy glitch enhanced rhythms, bassy tones and a harrowing atmospheric ambient backdrop.
Inami again produces an excellent collection of experimental electronica from a collection of lesser known artists from the Japanese electronic music scene. An interesting compilation of tracks that takes in abstract, glitch, rhythmic, ambient, noise and experimental aspects of electronic music at various points along its journey. Electr-Ohm compilations always produce something new and interesting to listen to and each compilation includes a new set of artists to look out for and explore. Let’s hope the series continues in the future and brings more new discoveries to our collective attention.
— Paul Lloyd