CD, Pharmafabrik, 2008
Information about the Italian-based Slovenian label Pharmafabrik is scarce and their website does not go beyond brief descriptions of releases, some press clippings and a shop with the occasional sound sample. Their latest offering is also their second label sampler and an interesting indicator of the label’s artistic vision and the quality that is strives for.
It is rare to find a compilation like this, one that flows so seamlessly and sounds so organic and coherent, gently but effortlessly grabbing the listener’s attention from the beginning without any degree of intrusiveness – effectively going beyond the basic premise of a label sampler. The music in “Fabrisampler v2” spans a broad range of experimental genres, from ambient and drones to electro-acoustic and field recordings, all sharing intrinsic psychedelic qualities. Though the presented music genres easily lend themselves to this seamless approach, one can’t help but feel that a lot of attention was paid to the artist selection and track placement, also seeming that each artist began his composition by picking up and working from the ending of the previous track. While there is space for emerging artists, the vast majority of the tracks presented in this compilation are the work of well-known and established sound art veterans from all over the world – names like like Mick Harris, Justin Broadrick, Henrik Nordvargr Björkk, Alexei Borisov and Sunao Inami hint at the quality of the material presented here.
Considering the seamless nature of this compilation, it is somewhat nonsensical to mention isolated tracks. It should preferably be appreciated from a holistic perspective, from the way it ebbs and flows to the highlights that each artist brings to the final result. The opening guitar chords of Final and the haunting drones of Pure-H set the mood for the complex simplicity of WoO’s guitar manipulation and Go Tsushima’s optimistic (and perhaps innocent) reverie. Left Eye Dominant brings an unexpected but welcome note of discord, while retaining the upbeat qualities of the preceeding work. With Alexei Borisov and Tania Steve there is a feeling of disembodiedment of the sound elements, a certain “something that is there but really isn’t” which coalesces through the work of Nordvargr. Argentinian duo The Cherry Blues Project masterfully bridges these phantasms into something that, through the work of Dodecahedragraph is more conventional IDM. Finally, Sunao Inami (in a composition reminiscent of his recent release “How-Bow 2”) and Mick Harris (as Lull) bring this aural journey full circle.
In the end, “Fabriksampler v2” presents itself as an extremely interesting body of work which should definitely be checked out. Superbly curated and featuring a wealth of talented artists, it sets a very high standard for Pharmafabrik to live up to.
— Miguel de Sousa