Three years after Atrocious Symphonies Vol. I, the Madrid imprint curated by Rafael Bretón and Mireia Cobos is ready for a relaunch as a cassette label. And what better way to attract the public’s attention than with a sampler of international artists whose genres range from the electronic to the experimental?
“Atrocious Symphonies” is a great name for this music, as the general public might react with disdain, hearing so many songs without obvious hooks. Every reader of this site has had the experience of playing a favorite song for someone who just doesn’t get it. But we get it, which is why we enjoy hearing such diverse noises. We like to regard ourselves not as contrary, but forward-thinking. As we listen to the trestles, airplanes and drones of Marc Broude’s outstanding “Risperdal”, we think of international artists flying in for their recording sessions, or sounds flying into our collective consciousness. “Risperdal” makes an apt overture because it announces the unfamiliar through use of the familiar; everyone has heard these sounds, although few have heard them together.
This maverick approach continues throughout the compilation, which somehow manages to flow smoothly despite its diversity. Not everything works equally, but that’s the nature of compilations. One hopes to translate a few unfamiliar names into new favorites, and perhaps add a new label to one’s subscription list. Abre Ojos piles layer upon layer of bleak tones to create the thoroughly foreboding “Colonize”, topped by the entry of drums two-thirds of the way in. This leads directly to Raica’s “Headrow”, which seems a natural progression. In this piece, percussion sets the pace, but dark drones establish the mood. By the end, the piece ventures into the dark ambient / industrial realm. As the album continues, the beats grow clearer; wisdom is apparent in the sequencing. The final three tracks, presented by Half Mute, Pina and Malacoda, would each make worthy adds to the Tympanik roster. Of these, Pina’s “Kief” is the most effective, due to a host of sub-rhythms that wander with aplomb across the sonic field. We look forward to the first cassette from Atrocious Symphonies; the wealth of this compilation is an encouraging sign. (Richard Allen)