CD, MECHaNISMz, 2005
The opener to the MECHaNISMz/CrunchPod/Auricle Media compilation “A Mere Invention of the Idle Mind”, Timothy Something’s “Our ABC’s”, would be irritating even if it were just the base track, a light-hearted recitation of the children’s song. This mix, however, featuring the song tumbling through hills and valleys of pitch and pace, is painful to listen to and downright begs to be skipped – and it’s only a minute long. Thankfully it proves only a bizarre introduction and is in no way representative of this intriguing powernoise/dark ambient/drill-n-bass comp.
C/A/T impresses with what feels like the real opening track, “Liturgy”, filled with hypnotic rhythms and shivery samples. The producers did a disservice to the Seattle outfit, as this, one of the strongest songs on the disc, truly deserves to set the stage for what’s to come.
Like most compilations, this 17-track disc runs the gamut from forgettable to outstanding, and the positives certainly outweigh the negatives (although the bad tracks are truly awful). The genre-bending isn’t unwelcome, but be prepared-there are distinct differences among the artists. Overall, it’s a good thing, opening the listener’s mind to a broad variety of sounds they might otherwise dismiss.
Among the stronger songs are Audiovoid’s “Rolling Telefunk”, blending trippy, almost psychedelic rhythms with an energy reminiscent of ’80s underground dance. Victo_Ecret also seems to pull heavily from their electro-forefathers for their track “Superfluous”, filled with retro-infused industrial/synth, well-balanced percussion and again some delightful samples. And Mimetic & Iszoloscope pair up on “Heard Voices”, a fascinating paradox of sound-it’s mellow yet intense, relaxing yet energizing and overall just wonderful.
If the mix on other tracks wasn’t so tight, one might blame the producers for the mess that is The Operative’s “The 36 Invisibles”, which is virtually unlistenable (completely so on headphones), with lame keyboards overpowered by LOUD, buzzy distortion. Ditto on “Necessary Overdrive” by The Magus and “Earth Bass II” by Pyroclastic, who seem too wrapped up in the “noise” factor and forget that they’re making something intended for the ears of others, with the music buried somewhere under the weight of slinky-like tempos that make it impossible to grasp a beat.
Manufactura reliably gets powernoise right, both on their own track “Killing You” and their remix of Sonar’s “Tone-Loc”, clearly realizing that aggro/powernoise is about more than just noise. There’s an art to this style of music, and while bands like The Magus and Pyroclastic might just be the Jackson Pollocks of their respective genres to some, sometimes a mess is just a mess.
That said, this is a worthy comp and an excellent introduction into the many styles covered by their parent labels.
— Tiara Lynn Agresta