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V/A - Clicks & Cuts 3

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Artist: V/A

Album: Clicks & Cuts 3

Label: Mille Plateaux

Review date: Apr. 3, 2003

The Cutting Room Floor

For a time, Mille Plateaux was the cream of the crop of indie dance labels, producing a stream of blissful IDM records that tickled the senses and moved the mind. All of a sudden, hipster record collectors and E’d up ravers alike were turning their ears to Germany, catching every beat to hit the street. With the halcyon days of the Berlin club scene long gone, there was a new sound rising from the Rhone and Mille Plateaux was there chronicling the growth of glitch.

The Clicks & Cuts series became a great way of introducing the world to this new, melodic, experimental side of European dance music. Toss a bunch of artists together, add some zippy, computer-generated artwork and voila! The concept worked well, with the discs even managing to net a fair amount of press in the club-retarded confines of the US.

The collection really hit its stride with the second volume, a sprawling, three-disc set of padded drum thumps and glittering electronics. Tossed together into a lavishly packaged set, the album became a classic for late night drivers, crashing clubbers and intellectuals content with staying far away from the dancefloor.

So what went wrong?

Two years after Volume 2, Mille Plateaux’s third offering is a major letdown. Gone is the dizzying experimentalism of the first two collections, replaced by a poppy mass of sputtering club cuts. Gone too, is the sense that the music contained is a cutting-edge commodity. While the first two volumes featured extensive liner notes and essays detailing the rise of glitch, Volume 3 contains not a peep of philosophy to back the aural output. While still packed with many a star of the laptop scene, the true adventurers of Volume 1 and 2, like Kid 606, Pan Sonic and Pole, are nowhere to be found.

Musically, not much has changed -- and there lies the problem. Not only has experimentation taken the back seat to a bouncy dance pulse, the majority of the “cuts” sound incredibly stale. Boris Polonski rips things out of the rut a bit with his stuttering “Diffuse Daten in 5 Min,” and Swayzak make a pleasant return to form following their dismal Dirty Dancing, but the quality tracks are tough to pick out from the overwhelming banality of the whole.

At times, things get downright silly. Luomo’s electro-pop “Melt (agf/dlay edit)” sounds like a wussy 80s r&b cut, the kind of tune that found blasting from neon-lit redneck “dance” clubs and cheap strip joints.

More than anything, Clicks & Cuts 3 sounds like those shoddy, mid-90s compilations that would package up a bunch of played out UK hits and send them to the States in hope of creating an interest in dance culture. The tunes are stale and ancient, far from the innovation that stood for a few years before.

So what’s the reason for Mille Plateaux’s fall? Maybe the increased popularity of IDM music has simply brought exposure to so many labels and artists that one of the ones that started it all has become dated. Maybe it’s more to do with the recent focus on bands who are relinquishing the laptop to make more “traditionally” experimental music. Either way, Mille Plateaux is dangerously close to having Clicks & Cuts become the next Trance Europe Express.

By Ethan Covey

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