The latest installment in Symbolic Interaction’s series is not silent ~ it’s not even as ambient as one might expect. The disc blends the advertised “warm” tones with busy electronics, with a slight edge to the latter. While a few familiar names appear, the album as a whole serves as an introduction to some worthy underground artists. The price is low, and the payoff is high.
First to the “warm quiet” ~ the softer tracks that appear around the edges of the disc. mulllr‘s “nine particles” eases the listener into the set with soothing tones and light ambient pops. The pops are a good choice to represent the particles of the title. The beautifully named summer night air follows with the languid “4.3”, which stretches filaments from sunbeams for two and a half minutes before introducing the beats. In the closing minutes, the track is only marginally ambient, borrowing from the euphoria of post-rock for a strong conclusion. The album doesn’t settle down again until the eleventh track, when rachael boyd provides a beguiling mixture of piano, strings and (light) vox on album highlight “push through little bee”. This is followed by k. conjog‘s “something to say, something to know, something to do”, from 2014’s Dasein: another piano piece, this one accompanied by light drums and glockenspiel. ian hawgood and score restore the album’s original lightness with “paper harmonies (tokyo)” and “eagle catches termal”. Counterintuitively, the first of these is the one to include birds, while the second is a bright drone piece. These six tracks form the core of the collection despite living on the borders; epitomizing the title, they send a warm glow through the speakers, settling on the skin.
The beat-dominated center seems like an entirely different album ~ not necessarily a problem for a compilation, but a sign that perhaps two separate discs were needed. The section includes forays into light dubstep, house, techno and IDM. The strongest of these entries is roel funcken‘s hyperactive “cheen groice”, which stands on a table to declare its presence. Exclusive to the set, the selection underlines the appeal of compilations; the chance to hear new material from artists who are working on their next albums. With 14 tracks at the cost of 2, it’s well worth the purchase. (Richard Allen)