Various Artists
Innovation Durch Irritation

By Elizabeth Wells

It must be quite irksome to have to acknowledge after all this time that Yello! is still your most famous musical export in the dance world. So this release of various artists on the Swiss Stattmusik label has had to declare somewhat defiantly, that the age of Yello! is dead, long live the ‘brilliant melting pot of contemporary electronic music’.

So it was somewhat disappointing to find that the first CD on this compilation is made up pretty much uniformly of fairly minimalist tech-house. There are some indications that artists are deconstructing the norm of 4/4 rhythms, minimal squeaky percussion and dull bass: Bang Goes does a nice sub-aquatic bass, brushes, and little synth flourishes, and Halltown constructs some funky laidback techno a la an R&S-type groove. It was a nice surprise to get to the second CD and discover that they had saved the best till last. This side features a more playful, energetic use of electronics, sort of Plone meets tech-house. This is showcased particularly well in Seelenfinder’s Easybird, with its high-pitched manic melodies. Then follows the lovely but slightly disturbing minimalist glitch of Teleform, who feeds the delicate melodies of his soundscape into various distorting filters till they become unrecognizable crackles. The wind instrumentation and industrial effects of Elixir’s Coolground sounds like a primary school orchestra let loose or the production line of a Willy Wonka factory, and Person finishes off with a sterling track, and my favourite, Kellerfrucht, whose complex industrial rhythms and lovely harmonics are reminiscent of something Chris Clark might have done.

So, following in an established tradition, then, but this compilation shows that Swiss electronica deserves to secure a place in its own right on the contemporary world stage of dance music.
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