Various – Minority

Artist - Various - Minority

CD, minor, 2006
http://www.minorlabel.de

“Minority” introduced the Minor label, operating on the fault lines between abstract electronica and experimental ambient textures. Luckily this isn’t a selection of aggressively inoffensive, Bores of Canada-style IDM-by-numbers. Electronica is a very compromised term, and often a bad omen, but there’s little sign of ‘tweetronica’ or complacent-nostalgic pastoralism here: tension runs through much of the album. Some tracks sound like the artists playing with plug-ins and leaving the tracks unfinished, but there are many interesting and unexpected things from obscure artists, all new to me. Some are perhaps defunct but several are worth investigating.
The approach of the label and several of the artists recalls the deconstructionist tendencies surrounding the old Mille Plateaux label: a suspicion of anything too well-formed, fluent or complacent. Fortunately this doesn’t disintegrate into an improvisational mentality. The best of these tracks retain structures, albeit fragile ones that seem in danger of further disintegration as they uneasily unfold.
Orion’s seductively uneasy “Sleeps” contrasts melancholic chords and dark background ambience and is a highlight. Another strong track is Triphaze’s darkly atmospheric “Nebelboote” – an uneasy, unresolved mass of glitches and rumblings. There’s also a preference for quirky names, and whilst these sometimes indicate quirkiness for quirkiness’ sake, this isn’t always so; PS Stamps Back’s “Failure” being a case in point. It’s a very low, smeared-sounding track closer to dark/ritual ambient which becomes immense.
Another example is The Tleilaxu Music Machine’s “Expectorant”. Here a very interesting effect is created from what seems to be a sampled pendulum/clock sound followed by crashing chords that command attention. Other highlights are the on/off machine patterns and heavier percussion interludes of Myna’s “Brochas” and the ominous process(ed) groove of Tlic’s “Onyan”.
Elsewhere Tremor’s “Give Us 2 Minutes to Toast Your Brain” doesn’t deliver on the promise of its title but lays down an unexpected blend of dysfunctional beats with traces of both the Digital Hardcore and Hands labels. It’s the kind of track that struggles with itself in order to prevent anything too fully-formed emerging.
None of the other tracks are truly bad, and a few even contain the germs of interesting ideas. However, in a world of systematic sonic over-production half-decent tracks are not enough, and even decent can be insufficient. “Minority” is an uneven but surprising compilation which definitely deserves more than a cursory listen.

[7/10]

— Alexei Monroe