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V/A - Bip-Hip Generation Vol. 6

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Artist: V/A

Album: Bip-Hip Generation Vol. 6

Label: Bip-Hop

Review date: May. 28, 2003

Intelligent Distraction Music

For the past several years, Bip-Hop has produced consistently appealing (if, at times, theoretically so) music, most of which is of the bedroom chill-out variety. By taking a morning-after-the-rave ambient vibe and fusing it with a reclusive laptop mixer aesthetic, the label has explored several avenues of incidental music, from film score to soundscape to (although often very pleasant) background noise.

Foreground versus background seems to be the issue at stake on this record, as is the case with a lot of contemporary ambient music. It’s quite possible (and rewarding) to play this disc at a volume just below the conversation of the room, and only be troubled by the occasional discordant shards of sound, while mostly (if, at times, subconsciously) enjoying the sound contained therein. It’s also quite possible to seriously consider the music contained on the record, although it takes a little more patience, an appreciation of forms of expression that don’t exactly get to the point (which, of course, is the point) and a taste for experimental ambient. This is the sort of option that a lot of Bip-Hop music presents to the listener.

Still building its roster (the label has issued a handful of full-lengths to date, including LPs by Spaceheads, Tennis and Cray) Bip-Hop has cleverly chosen to brand its sound through compilations, six of which have thus far fallen under the Bip-Hop Generation moniker. Each of the compilations has brought together a different lineup of artists, each expressing what the label has referred to as “people creating music, sounds, based on machines.” The most appealing aspects of the Bip-Hop Generation compilations is the variety of artists contained within each compilation (Vol. 6 brings together the spliced-vocals/sounds over film score pieces of Scanner and the dark down-tempo of Angel) and the fact that the majority of the artists included within the compilation are given either multiple or extended tracks by which to reasonably offer their sound to the listener.

In addition to Scanner and Angel, Bip-Hop Generation Vol. 6 also includes Alejandra & Aeron, Bittonic, Lipo Vaisanen, and Battery Operated. With a running time of nearly 70 minutes, the collection feels complete without being overbearing. The CD booklet offers selected discographies for each artists, as well as helpful biographical notations for the artists, many of which you may not have heard before. As with previous Bip-Hop compilations, the artists featured on Vol. 6 are a very international mix, representing Spain, Finland, Germany, the UK, and the United States.

As a kind of macrocosm of much of the music produced by Bip-Hop, this collection makes great use of the space between the limited sounds heard in the music of many of the artists involved. The ebb and flow of the opening track by Alejandra & Aeron quickly brings into focus the language of incidental music, by which the most engaging passages are often surrounded by expendable (or complete lack of) sound. Listening to the collection as a whole reveals the skill with which the collection was curated (many of the tracks on this record are far less “songs” than they are “pieces”). The jagged, busy splicing of Scanner renders the ominous space of Bittonic, which immediately follows, that much more bare and lonely. The considerably mellow collection finishes on a relatively excited note with the lively down-tempo of Battery Operated and Angel, giving a sense of the album being a bit more immediately engaging than it actually is. This is arty stuff, and maybe more given to consideration than to listening. But with time, the music of the Bip-Hop is moving and proves rewarding, and both intellectually and emotionally accessible.

By Cory O'Malley

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