V/A :: MD8 (n5MD, CD)

652 image 1California-based label n5md is now in the CD business. Previously, one of the charms of Mike Cadoo’s (who records as one-half of Gridlock) efforts with n5md has been that the releases have (almost) all been issued on pre-recorded mini-discs. Sony, however, finally ran the numbers and decided that there just wasn’t a viable market for the pre-recorded format and dropped the availability. Cadoo, though disappointed at the reality, hasn’t missed a beat and is now releasing n5md releases on CD. For the rest of us who weren’t embracing the technology, this means that we can now more readily hear the sort of music Cadoo means when he references one of the core tenets of the label as being a home for a “more emotional type of experimental electronica.” The first post mini-disc demise release, MD8, is a compilation showcasing the efforts of the n5md roster to realize the Three E‘s of Cadoo’s dream.

Quench’s “Frost” is a textured piece of winter night music, flush with the sort of soft flakes and persistent whiteness, which fills the air and layers a sparkling coat across rooftops and city streets. This is a gorgeous tune and it takes me four tries to get past it on the CD. I keep hitting the repeat key and losing myself in the slow build of the blizzard it raises in my head. Sohcahtoa’s “Magretha” exudes a similar textured lushness, the ripe melodies flooding your speakers like a spreading pool of warm sunlight. Beats dapple the surface of the piece like a dusting of colored motes dancing in the waves of heat given off by the expanding pool.

Vesna’s “Rack Mode” clatters like a broom closet exploding which only adds to the organic charm of the warm analog melodies. Rivel’s “Isine” is a winsome little tune that is fractured by digital artifacting. Round tones are cut and fragmented by bit-slicing, turning the human emotion of the melody into a stuttering mechanical expression. Portland’s “Soco 2110 Th” is a soundtrack to a cybernetic private eye film, a biomechanical film noir ditty. Gridlock’s “Chrometaphor” is remixed by Loess, turned into a ballad which sounds like it is being sung by a chorus of steam pipes and old machinery going gently into the dark night.

Gimmik blenderizes a Speak-n-Spell and children’s voices into a Squarepusher-esque mix with “Booga.” Headphone Science re-imagines a Philip Chandler novel as a piece of electronic mood music for “Disappeared in the Rear View.” Spark’s “Don’t Rain on my Parade” sounds like a spring shower dancing on the rooftop, and Mercurial’s “Rainwater” closes the disc with an emotive piano and rainwater hymn to the temperate space following a heavy thundershower.

Electronic music can be devoid of any human touch, beats and rhythms derived by abstract math and soulless calculations. It’s a testament to our insistent need to communicate that mathematically derived music can so readily be warm and engaging. MD8 showcases the possibilities for emotion and experimentation in electronic music. This is the first time I’ve heard some of these artists and MD8 only fuels my desire to devour n5md’s back catalogue. Excellent, and damaging to the pocket book.

MD8 is OUT NOW on n5MD featuring Headphone Science, Quench, Sohcahtoa, Rivel, Vesna, Portland, Similar, ML, Gridlock (Remixed by Loess), Vcam (Remixed by Proem), Phaeon, Gimmik, Spark and Mercurial.


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