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V/A – Electric Sheperd: an audio tribute to Philip K. Dick

V/A - Electric Sheperd: an audio tribute to Philip K. Dick

CD, Backwards Records, 2006

I wasn’t convinced by this album to begin with, but frankly, if any novelist’s work lends itself to being memorialised in off-the-wall electronic musical form, it’s Phillip K. Dick’s. Well, maybe Jeff Noon’s too. Anyway, if you can’t warm to a compilation that features a tongue-in-cheek Rick Deckard voice rapping white-trash style about blowing away replicants, well, what hope is there. “Skinjobs… They’re all the same.” Word up, Gonken.
There’s a great variety of styles in this double-CD 19-tracker, from the lo-fi techno of Kris Moon to the grindcore metal (!?!) of A Scanner Darkly, and from the minimal spacey ambience of Kuxaan Sum to the grating noise of Firecracker. There’s also, truth be told, a great variety of qualities too. Syphilis Sauna’s odd little number “Gubbish” deserves a special mention for it’s mutant fairytale vocals and dreamily hypnotic rhythm, and DJ LAMP and Black 13 for making simple ideas memorable with their angular industrial beats.
Some of the more ambient tracks, on the other hand, are rather forgettable. Meanwhile, Ffej’s tune sounds cheaply made and has annoying vocals, and Ubik start off well but ruin things with a jarring bridge section. Lovers of beat-free experimentalism will probably get the best value for money here, with Penetration Camp and Djet covering the Cold Meat end of the spectrum competently, and Rassmussen (who are down in my notes as “computers going wrong”) and the Red Squirrels venturing into twisted, hallucinatory electronics.
It’s hard to know how to rate this out of ten, it would have been a six due to the fair amount of chaff, but then at US$6 direct from Backwards Records it’s actually a lot cheaper than many single CDs. But careful curation does make for a more striking compilation, so it gets a six point five.


— Andrew Clegg

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