Rioteer / Urbanfailure / Gotharman / Axiomid, Instant Satisfunction, Slovakia, Urbsounds Collective, CD 26 (2012)
Four acts come together to release this set of sixteen beats-dominated rhythmscapes ranging in sound from techno, noise and industrial-lite to abstraction and experimental rhythm-based sound art. The whole recording can be a bewildering experience and an exercise in holding your mind together as it struggles with the influx of brutal and often punishing technoid music soundtracks. The music moves with an inhuman machine-like spirit created from the incessant repeating beats, chattering tones and murky rhythms that when combined together must achieve some level of self-awareness and conscious purpose. It reaches out to make contact with the nearest carbon-based life-form – which happens to be the unwary listener who thinks this recording is just going to be another compilation of club-friendly break-beat hardcore techno stuff.
Rioteer‘s “From Better Times”, a pugilistic puncher up against a languid loop of warbling female voice, and Urbanfailure‘s repetitive “Caught in Humankind”, a study of multi-looping machine stutter, set the bar high for others to follow: some stumble and others flat-line but the one consistency among all of them is that they confound expectations about what to expect. Highlights include Gotharman‘s sometimes creepy “Attacked by Mosquitos” (sic) which appears to feature precious few mozzies but lots of squiggle, bubbling sounds and something frothing in the background; and Rioteer’s battleground piece “Space Collider”, complete with machine-gunning loops and breakbeat rounds. “Space Collider” is a lively track at least if not in all-out attacking mode. Axiomid‘s “Pilot is missing” plays about with aeroplane hums and roars.
Perhaps because the album usually jumps from one artist to the next, rather than clump tracks by the same musician together, the tracks betray no individual style that might set their creators apart from other people on the album and after a while tend to bleed into one another irrespective of their originators. The heavy emphasis on repetition in the beats and rhythms means that music composition is a bit at a stand-still; there’s no sense of progress or direction on several tracks. As the album continues past track 10, I sense a deterioration in standards as some pieces opt for knock-about rhythm bombast and machine beats and loops allowed to run away with no attempt on the artists’ part to control where they romp.
This album ends up quite playful if at times gleefully harsh in sound, even glorifying in being brutal for its sake alone. I’d have preferred an album of many moods and atmospheres with the odd unstructured space-ambient tone poem over a recording that relies rather too hard on the well-worn template of looping repetition.