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V/A - Background Records 050 / Elektronische Musik - Interkontinental 5

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Artist: V/A

Album: Background Records 050 / Elektronische Musik - Interkontinental 5

Label: Background / Traum

Review date: Aug. 6, 2006

Background Records 050 and Elektronische Musick - Interkontinental 5 are two more compilations from minimal techno’s nether regions. I’ve been risking over-exposure to the genre for some time now, lost within its minute shifts of grain and groove, a slowly welling feeling of ‘yes, but what now’ building every time I listen to another blank, anonymous drill of micro-managed texture clips. But these two compilations emerge from different spots in the spectrum, and they are both idiosyncratic enough to stave off the ennui of over-saturation.

Andy Vaz’s Background imprint, whilst not second-tier in quality, tends to get lost among the genre’s bigger names. Not quite a Kompakt or Force Tracks, nor a label-of-the-moment like Mobilee, Vaz’s aesthetic is broader than many, which makes for an interesting track record. Celebrating the 50th release on the label, Background Records 050 negotiates tricky territory, leaping between Vaz’s own post-Jelinek puddles of texture, soft collisions of glinting samples on Terrence Dixon’s “Detroit City Lights,” and Antigue Automata Mexicano, whose “First Imago” is a softer, less cognitively dissonant version of those Crank and Low Res records from the late 1990s. Even the most minimal of tracks, like DB’s “Low Moon,” foster structural complexity within their quiescent loops. Not everything here is great, and sometimes Background productions feel unnecessarily clumsy or fuzzy with detail, but a keen sense of exploration saves the compilation.

The latest installment in Traum’s Elektronische Musik – Interkontinental series is reliable as ever, though there have been a few changes: this is the first disc in the series mixed (as opposed to compiled) by Traum head Riley Reinhold, and the sound has opened up a little. Minimal techno is still the dominant language but many of the producers chase stringy melodies through wormholes in time, disappearing as they turn their productions inside out. Jesse Somfay’s “Fabergé” pirouettes a fractal melody a la Nathan Fake’s “Dinamo”; later on the disc Fake’s trademark cellular, spiralling tunes reappear via Ortin Cam and Gabriel Kogler, which makes Fake’s own recourse to hazy post-M83 ambience disappointing in context. But for the most part, Elektronische Musik – Interkontinental is dance music newly psychedelicized, all wavy lines slipping in and out of phase.

By Jon Dale

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