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V/A – Manoeuvres 2: A Collection of Vancouver Electronica

V/A - Manoeuvres 2: A Collection of Vancouver Electronica

CD, So Called Recordings, 2008

This is downtempo progressive that seems to have time-warped from the decks of a chill-out room, circa 1994; ideal for a sleepy evening lounging around the fireplace or a rooftop romp on an overcast day. Although numbingly repetitive at times, you will undoubtedly nod your head sooner or later when one of these greasy grooves slides past your ear. As you flow along with these tracks you will no doubt reflect on essences of soul, dub and glam rock, among others. All of which are undeniably drenched in what could otherwise be classified as textbook electro-ambient. However, on the production side of this album, you will notice a distinct difference from early chill-out. Whereas the recordings of that era used to be of less-than-stellar recording quality, the tracks on this album are so well produced they often seem polished smooth.
The relative homogeny of the disc lends itself well to the compilation concept. It includes everything from exclusive remixes and previously unreleased tracks to contributions from both recognized and as yet unfamiliar local artists. While there is enough variation between the individual artists to keep the album from becoming dreary, you will likely find progression within the tracks themselves to be lacking. Furthermore, if you give it a listen, don’t wait for a hook – you may find yourself waiting for a long time. This isn’t to say there are no redeeming qualities to the album. This combination of repetition and varied essences often beckons the listener to reminisce over a lifetime of musical influences. Inevitably this daydreaming will both distract from the relative repetitiveness and warm you to it through familiarity.
It isn’t often that you run into an album that you can’t seem to dislike, even when there is nothing special about it. Usually you can pinpoint what it is you object to and distance yourself from it, but this album is worth listening to – and you will find yourself doing just that, again and again. It is a charm unique to albums with this distinction and is not unlike comfort food. However, just like mother’s cookies, you find it a pleasant experience, but it may be lacking in anything nutritive. Pabulum aside, in the end it’s difficult to harbor feelings of ill will toward the familial embrace offered by this collection from Vancouver’s electronic music scene.


— George Caruso

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