V/A – ICASEA – Benefit Compilation for Japan download (ICASEA)

ImageMy good friend suggested to me that I check this out and down-buy it, and I did so right away. The decision was very easy. This is a 75 track compilation of electronic music for $10. I like electronic music a lot, of various types, which this comp. possesses in bulk. I like buying in bulk. Bulk dry beans, especially. Also, this helped make the decision go quickly:

“”Benefit Compilation For Japan” is dedicated to the victims and survivors of the March 11th Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, and to those affected by the ongoing nuclear crisis.

All proceeds from the sale of this compilation will be donated to assist in the rebuilding of peoples lives and the recovery of the devastated areas. The proceeds will be split between the Japanese Red Cross Earthquake Relief Fund and the special accounts set up by the regional governments of the affected areas for the acceptance of monetary donations.” 

Artists of noted interest to me immediately due to some familiarity with &/or extensive enjoyment of their recordings were Luke Vibert, Team Duyobi, Autechre, Takashi Muto, Freeform, Mogwai, CliffordandCalix (Mark of Seefeel & Mira Calix) and Russel Haswell. Names I recognized were Stellar Om Source, Subjex, The Wyrding Module, VHS Head, Laurel Halo, and Lee Gamble.

In the realm of electronic, Benefit Compilation for Japan goes in a lot of directions. Some are a little too much for me, maybe a little too urban/trendy/clubby/hip-hoppy? to get all-the-way into, but there aren’t any that I absolutely must skip past. Some of the pieces have an overabundance -to me- of what is called “side chain compression”, which is a currently in-vogue production technique which makes chosen elements in a piece of music drop volume drastically at the hit of a bass drum or some other chosen element. This effect is used in preposterous overabundance by people that make the typical sounding dubstep- party brain-clog. Some pieces are characteristically modern electronic music leaning toward club-type music, but with creative twists that make the piece/song edgier, weirder, more interesting. There’s a bit of vocals here and there, either rapped, spoken, or sampled, which has varying effects on my aesthetic faculties; I lean strongly toward the instrumentals, but the tracks with vocals here are either fully to my liking (CliffordandCalix) or they slip past with little to no chafing. A couple tracks I am noticably chafed by are the ones that would easily be categorized as sounding the most “modern” or “current” in the methods of programming, especially in the stylish, mid-tempo and just-a-little-out-of-time beats. These tracks aren’t really that bad, though, to me. My friend, whose name I will not share here, (Lay off on the driving of the Skrillex teasing into the ground, you vicious, acidic bastard you! If I actually did like Skrillex as you say I do, it would have been knocky-door ginger with bigly flaming 7lb. paper bag of doo on your  porch about 6 months ago, pal!) would say that I am secretly a huge admirer and impassioned unconscious plagiarist of certain flimsy and mega popular electronic artists and their styles. Contrary to his rude insistence on incorrectly believing this to be true and needing to badger me about it, I do not enjoy most clubby or dubstep-sounding music. It’s a good thing, then, that this compilation doesn’t just myopically stick to this vibe.

The collection has an overall uplifting or stimulating quality and is wonderfully diverse. I love laptop or synth programmed electronic music a lot of the time, especially the more out-there sort; in the territory of many of Skam or Schematic’s releases, and that’s where most of this sits. With Warp, much of this music sits, too. Great stuff as long as you’re not turned off by recordings that are slickly processed, overtly and unabashedly electronic. If you hate the general feel of music by Aphex Twin, Chris Clark, Squarepusher, Richard Devine, Autechre, Prefuse 73, Flying Lotus, etc. you will probably hate most of this, too. A lot of it is very post-processed and programmed, or at least sounds that way. Some people insist on their electronic music being a lot less processed; more like Kluster, Eno, Can, Tangerine Dream – in more organic-leaning, psychedelic territories. Seems like there’s only a few tracks here that lean at all in this direction; it’s all slicked up quite a bit, mostly by way of it being mostly software-based synthesis & sequencing. There’s probably more than I think on here that was created exclusively by synths that were not interfaced with software, but my 83% psychic extra sensory abilities discretion power tells me that more than 93% of this music was programmed into and elicited from a computer. I see nothing wrong with that, but there are people that don’t like to even be reminded of laptops or clubby sounding music.

But there is an answer for these people…

The comp. goes from catchier stuff the first half to more adventurous creations toward the end. There isn’t a night and day transformation. It’s more like a noon to 8P.M. blend & fade; a slow and fine transform of features. My interest really picks up more in the latter half where things get more odd.

There are some ambient-type pieces, namely Collapsoft and Laurel Halo. There are a couple of noise/concrete pieces, namely Russel Haswell, Denis Darfour. These are all good and unique, adding depth and extra topographic points to the spread of the compilation. There’s an excellent piece of solo piano music by Konx-Om-Pax; animatedly thoughtful. Seesaw has a strange item of wandering synthesizer melody sketching that is difficult to categorize, but several degrees higher than pleasantly listenable.

My favorites (some of the most adventurous and clever pieces – mostly among the later tracks): Ametsub, Wankers United, Nuearz, Neil Landstrumm, Analogue Wood and Michael Winslow, Autechre, S>>D, Luh, Voyetra, Joe Lentini, Mesak, The Wyrding Module & Skeksi,  Collapsoft, CliffordandCalix, NMB, ZK, Freeform, ICASEA, Konx-Om-Pax, Seesaw.

5K3K51 and Subjex’ tracks are probably my favorites, for the extremity of other-worldliness arrived at in their manipulations, and the high quality of the rhythm construction.
These two tracks embody some of my favorite elements of newer electronic music in texture and composition. The mood is eerie, inward-looking, transporting. The rhythms are entrancing, busy, enveloping. The texture gets microscopic and plentifully variegated. The simultaneous veins of intensely analytical programming/embellishment and loose-flow zone-out on these tracks is stimulating in special ways distinctive to this type of music.

The very last track, credited to ICASEA, is 24 minutes long and threads its way from a skeletal IDM similar in flavor to some of the more sparse Tri Repetae-era Autechre, to pensive ambient gyrations and flailing, all touched lightly with reverb, coming in and out of the dark silence between each thrown toneball, not unlike a luminescent jellyfish would appear and disappear to the eyes in the darkness of some underground sea life observatory.

Such a beautiful end to what is probably the most high quality compilation I’ve ever come across; for its economy (75 tracks for $10!!!), the much-more-than-worthy cause it benefits, and the thoroughly enjoyable contents.


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