V/A :: Emerging Organisms Vol. 5 (Tympanik Audio)

The selection here follows previous editions’ time-tested mixture of big names and newcomers, blending originals with remixes and collaborations to take the listener on a diverse journey through the state of the world in edgy IDM.

Seems like just yesterday I was reviewing a giant Tympanik Audio compilation, but in fact it was 2012 and they’d just released Accretion to celebrate five years of hard-hitting electronics. Now there’s another fifth anniversary to pay tribute to, but this time it’s the fifth installment of the Emerging Organisms series.

The releases under this moniker have a storied history: in fact, the first EA was the label’s inaugural release (TA001) back in December 2007, featuring artists who would go on to full-length albums on the label like Totakeke and Unterm Rad (coverage here on Igloo by Paul Lloyd.) Since then, in physical and digital release, Tympanik has promoted both up-and-coming established names with this series, fostering the organic network effects that happen when devotees of genres off the beaten path follow hyperlinks from artists they know to collaborators and remixers, then to their compatriots on an esoteric compilation and eventually to a new favorite—enabling the Spotify-era equivalent of crate digging.

The selection here follows previous editions’ time-tested mixture of big names and newcomers, blending originals with remixes and collaborations to take the listener on a diverse journey through the state of the world in edgy IDM. There are thirty tracks on offer here, running nearly three hours, and I’m not going to attempt to catalog each one in summation. Rather, a few notes on notable entries that caught my ear:

The Empath brings a mean bass groove on “Trackology,” mixing twisted ribbons of static against elegiac pads to head-nodding effect.

Ginormous, whose tracks I’ve enjoyed on Digital::Nimbus radio but never owned, lays down a delightful 8-bit stomper with “Slugs.” If Sonic the Hedgehog had a level with snares, traps, and gnomes wearing scary Richard D. James masks, this would be the soundtrack.

“Limitless” by Belgian act The Walton Hoax, introduces the first vocals on the compilation, and they’re quite good. Imagine a more poppy Lights Out Asia with a chill-out surfer message to the lyrics and you’re almost there. Definitely a new name to keep tabs on in the coming months.

I love nearly all of Displacer‘s output from 2003’s Moon_Phase onward, but if “Slow Blade” signals his direction for upcoming full-length releases, they will demand extra attention. This is sound design on the level of Biosphere or Solar Fields—Arctic audio carved in icy, futuristic ambience.

Chase Dobson aka c.db.sn continues the hazy, shoe-gazy direction which I reviewed on his recent Parallel Lines EP with “Flesh and Bones for Armour.” The bass anchors this track with a throb and swell that capably offsets the tinkling guitar and chimes and it provides a lovely humanistic break amidst the machines.

But speaking of machines, newcomer and non-Google-friendly artist Huron follows up c.db.sn with “Survive,” a moody cyberpunk glitchfest that is evocative of early Access to Arasaka. The spacious, reverberated leads recontexutalize the distorted samples of Morpheus’ introductory monologue to Neo into an alternate reality: a cooler, enticing universe where the movies actually delivered on their promise.

Comaduster‘s full-length Hollow Worlds stands as a genre-redefining album, even though it’s been a year since it dropped. “Car Crash at Sea” is Réal’s first output since the full-length’s release and, if anything, indicates a deeper commitment to his meticulously sculpted aesthetic: glitched-up vocals play against digital raindrops and ultra-high-rez beats to evoke an android’s dream of loss and dissolution.

Album closer Charles and The Fury introduce “Fission of You” with more lovely raindrops and thunder (I must acknowledge that perhaps I’m especially attracted to these tracks because it’s late October here in Portland and my primary vistas are misty rain and fallen leaves.) The track evolves into a shuffling, off-kilter hip-hop beat with what sound like cathedrally reverberated guitars and organ laid on top. It all comes together with a witchy hi-hat, bringing a vibe like Holy Other on too much Robitussin. Almost feels too short at seven and a half minutes as the thunder rolls out across my headphones.

So there you go—some highlights on the Emerging Organisms 5 compilation. Even if your tastes differ from mine, there are plenty of other great tracks on offer here and you can get two CDs decorated with some amazing gatefold artwork by Timothee Mathelin for fifteen bones at the Tympanik Bandcamp site.

Emerging Organisms Vol. 5 is available on Tympanik Audio.

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