Various Artists
Evsc1:01 The Condition of Muzak

By Elizabeth Wells

Slightly unfortunate title this one, seeing as this collection based around the series of nine 7” singles released last year on Expanding Records could not really be called ‘muzak’ by any stretch of the imagination. In fact what it is is a fabulous showcase of one of the more exciting faces of downtempo glitch-based electronica which manages to juggle a number of different styles with aplomb, whilst remaining true to its artistic vision. Frequent contributor to the series, Benge, opens with Logans Walk, a crunchy slice of aural minimalism with digital strings, following later with the eerie amplified spaciness of Baud, whose sublime tones are offset by some crisp filtered beats. Although it exudes melancholy in a similar way to Boards of Canada, Benge’s aesthetic doesn’t feel nostalgic in the same way, but resolutely modern.

Elsewhere the playful rhythms on Abfahrt Hinwil’s Links Oben and Fibla’s Fottb wouldn’t sound out of place on a Toytronic compilation. Antoni Frankowski provides some retro electro doodling on L5 and Zorn’s Bits for Breakfast delivers some deep housey vibes with what sounds like a glockenspiel and some warm spacey pads in the background. Volume’s Dr Salts Massive Lung Trombone adds a new twist to the minimalist acid-techno vibe, deconstructing it by steering clear of the traditional effects associated with acid house. Tennis’ Duckshelf spins the axis yet again, delivering some multi-layered dub tones set against atmospheric crackles and glitches. This organic feel is carried over into the final track by David Mooney, whose groovy effects-laden chord sequences play out on a funky note. Trust my recommendation that this is essential listening for any discerning electronica fan.
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