V/A :: Snow Robots Volume 4 (Suction)

The warm 16-bit melodies of some twenty years back have mutated into grizzled men (much like myself) peddling coarse chords and rough rhythms made to carve up modern dance-floors. A new tradition has started and hopefully it will still be going in two decades time.

I’m not big into driving. I’m not particularly good at it for a start—or, I’m not that confident might be a better thing to say. I got my license quite late in life, around 27, and two days after achieving this milestone I moved to Madrid. Since then my driving is limited to holidays and knocking about in my mother’s aged Yaris in Ireland. Banging around in this red Toyota gives me a chance to listen to CDs from back in the day, Squarepusher albums, obscure electronica and one fixture in its crap sound system are the Snow Robot compilations from Suction Records. I enjoyed my false sense or youth, cruising in my mother’s hatchback to the likes of D’Arcangelo, Skanfrom and of course Solvent in the incessant drizzle of the Irish midlands. Such ideas of still having a wrinkle free complexion, of being a mere whipper-snapper were given an unwelcome jolt when Snow Robots Volume 4 was just announced—marking 20 years since the release of the first collections! After applying liberal amounts of Olay and servicing the initial shock with canned lager, I put nostalgia and misconceptions aside to get the headphones on.

This latest incarnation leaves behind the plink and plink of the past—the cheeky chiptune candies have been replaced by bitter hard boiled numbers. Running down the contributors are some heavy-hitters, such as Beau Wanzer and Greece’s Morah. Roger Semsroth (aka Sleeparchive, aka Skanfrom), gets things started under his lesser known Civil Defence Programme moniker. The gnarled interference of “Wrong Diagnosis” judders and thumps, static soaked words lost in a wire mesh of fuzz. Morah’s offering is less ferocious than some of his previous material, a cold and stark piece of reduced scorn. The first three tracks are incredibly short, none reaching three minutes, which takes away from some of their intensity. Sweden’s Celldöd turns up the distemper with “Pulsedisco 1_2.” No nonsense, straight for the jugular EBM is the result. Snares crash and kick drums thump in this crowd-pleasing beast. June delivers a frigid slice of synth wave with “Idealized States Of Perfection.” The warmth of the Greekman’s homeland is all but quenched as grey clouds loom in a track of sheer angles and stony faces. June returns, this time hooking up with Trenton Chase for a Manie Sans Délire remix of Digital Poodle’s “Soul Crush.” Crisp and clean, this remake reigns in the original while accentuating it with warmer tones. Perhaps the track that sits in the former tradition of the Snow Robots series is Ceramic Hello’s “Sampling the Blast Furnace.” Described as a “1982 vocoder anthem” the track is beautifully fragile, melancholic, and cracking; “Pouring passion down your throat like concrete,” being perhaps my new favorite line of lyrics.

I am not the same fresh-faced lad who bought Snow Robots Volume 1. I’ve matured, grown up, moved around, gone through different experiences, and changed. So has Suction, and this fourth installment is proof of that. The warm 16-bit melodies of some twenty years back have mutated into grizzled men (much like myself) peddling coarse chords and rough rhythms made to carve up modern dance-floors. A new tradition has started and hopefully it will still be going in two decades time.

Snow Robots Volume 4 is available on Suction.

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