2CD, Hymen Records, 2009
Time flies. It’s already been twelve years since Hymen Records first started out, and although as a label it has always seemed more interested in progressing rather than looking back, they have decided to celebrate this fact by releasing a double disc compilation album. Checking the track listing one will notice both familiar names and a couple of new ones – perhaps the aim of this compilation is not only to look back at their impressive back catalogue, but also to reveal what is yet to come… Unfortunately I don’t have enough space to write about all the gems so I’ll just focus on some of the highlights.
Disc one kicks off gently with an enchanting track by The_empath where warm pads fade in and out and are accompanied by some chopped-up beat work and the dreamy atmosphere manages to put the listener in a peaceful state of mind. But “Miwak 12” has a lot more to offer besides pretty ambiances. The second track launches into some serious dubstep- influenced beat work, followed by a very melodic track by Somatic Responses which, after a couple of minutes of funky electro rhythms, breaks down until just one lonely synth remains. Halfway through disc one I come across the beautiful track “Sunurb” by Nebulo with several layers of manipulated tape loops creating an abstract world of sonic sadness. But before we can get too sentimental, Black Lung sets the record straight with some heavily distorted electro grooves. The final track on the first disc is a haunting soundtrack by Hecq, yet another step into the ambient direction he took with his album “Night Falls”.
On disc two, “Combustion’ brings us an experimental trip hop track and the sliced up vocals by Caro Roth mix very well with the guitars and beats. Another smooth beginning which is again followed up by a harder edged tune by Ginormous featuring some ferocious synth work. A few tracks into the album Keef Baker presents his new trademark mix of electronics and distorted guitar grooves. By now both discs seem to revolve around the constantly shifting dynamics between each tune and quite often within a song. Disc two continues with a couple more beat-oriented tracks and even some full-on 8-bit party madness by Bit Shifter. Next up are the Dead Hollywood Stars: dark washes of sound move around slowly while a jazzy drummer beats his skins, then acoustic guitars enter the mix followed by trumpet hits and analogue synthwork – great stuff. Twenty Knifes finish the album with an upbeat melodic glitch fest.
All in all this compilation offers us a very wide selection of what Hymen Records has to offer. The broad range of the tracks makes for a varied listening experience but on the downside I noticed that on repeated listens I tended to skip a few tracks in order to stay in one vibe. “Miwak 12” clearly shows that Hymen is at the top of their game and still has plenty of quality electronic music for us in store.
— Tijs Ham