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V/A - The Cozmick Suckers Volume Black and White

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Artist: V/A

Album: The Cozmick Suckers Volume Black and White

Label: Shitkatapult

Review date: Jan. 23, 2003

Electric Smorgasbord

The Berlin-based label Shitkatapult returns with their fifth compilation in the Cozmick Suckers series. After several colorful combinations, this time it's back to basics with black and white. This sort of music seems to attract descriptions like micro-house and minimal funk together with adjectives like minimal, microscopic, and abstract. But what does it all mean?

Well, I'm no expert on the stuff, but many of the all-electronic structures are perhaps inevitably reminiscent of their forebears Kraftwerk. On the very first track, Rechenzentrum vs Column One's "Art 2 Dance," the mechanistic, simple plodding rhythms, static-laden percussive sounds, and artificial-sounding vocals clearly demonstrate the debt. Likewise, "Yellow Dub" by Fenin also draws on those musical robots, with its minimal electronic kick-snare beat and a repeating piano-like motif. Unfortunately, this song is extremely repetitive, and is a bit excessive at over six minutes in length.

Of course, not all of the tracks harken back so obviously to the past. Kyborg's "Harz" is almost pure tone with only the barest amount of rhythmic skeleton to provide some forward momentum, while Steinbruchel's closer is an ultra-minimal sound field of crackling static. "Desperate Thirst" by Zoy Winterstein has a rather robotic feel, but it's not so much a Kraftwerkian feel; it's more streamlined and futuristic, forward-looking. The buzzing, stretched-sounding rhythmic noises seem like a machine breaking down. T. Raumschmiere's "Anti" has a bit of a different kind of retro feel, back to the early 80s Throbbing Gristle or the very earliest Cabaret Voltaire experiments with overdriven electronics and awkwardly-sequenced synthetic rhythms.

Surprisingly or not, the least interesting tracks here are those that harken back instead to the recent past, such as the techno-house thump-thump of Sami Koivikko's "Suber," all unswerving 4/4 synthetic kick drum with vague tones wavering in the background. Over six minutes of this changeless mechanistic tedium is more than enough, I'm afraid. Slicker's "Revisit Red" is better, but still maintains a stubbornly consistent flavor through its lengthy eight-plus minutes, while Hughes/Cooper's "Untitled Dance Track" is bland enough to not need a title. It's slightly unfortunate that the least interesting tracks on the compilation are the longest.

Other pieces include Munit's deep-bass distortion beats, laser beam-topped skeletal beats by Apparat, Magnum 38's playful bells and sputtering sounds, an odd electronic lounge-lizard tune from Napoli is not Nepal. All in all, this collection offers an attractively wide range of electronic sounds with only a few dead spots throughout. It's a fine sampler for those wanting to check out the current state of abstract-minimal-electronic-funk-something -- whatever you might want to name it.

By Mason Jones

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