Did you ever meet someone who was so perky, so unrelentingly upbeat, that you resisted liking them, but were eventually won over? This is the case with Basserk Records’ 10th anniversary album. The videos are so cheerful, the presentation so positive, that the album is impossible to resist. Add to this the fact that each track has a corresponding silkscreen print from 310k and that the label has to date held two exhibition / release parties, and it’s easy to see why this Amsterdam label deserves notice.
If you’re in a good mood already, the album will put you in a better mood. If you’re in a bad mood, you may find these tracks irritating, but just give them a chance. They’re trying to make the world a better place, or at least a more cheerful place. Check out the happy flower, swaying and dancing in Doctr‘s “Ballet comique”, a possible cousin of Groot at the end of “Guardians of the Galaxy” (especially when the face appears). Another association is to the trance music of the 90s, popularized by artists such as DJ Quicksilver and Jean-Michel Jarre: crossover hits that may have been maligned by critics, but were undeniably contagious, glowsticks and all. The creatures in HuSo‘s “Lump” are similarly endearing, especially from 00:47-02:04, moving in time with the chirpy percussion. Yes, we can dance to this.
Malvae‘s “Labyrinth” adopts a slightly different tone, somewhere between Buddha Bar and Odesza, with stuttered female vox and stop-and-start percussion. The simultaneous retro/modern flavor could make this track a hit right now. The video is basically a kaleidoscope, with cut-up drawings, but this makes sense given the treatment of the vocals.
So how’s the rest of the album? As one can guess by now, Basserk Records is defined by tone more than sound. All of the tracks are electronic, although they draw from different eras. And all are head-nodding, poppy, get-out-on-the-floor-and-strut-your-stuff tunes. Sjamsjoedin’s “Grapes” is one of my favorites, because of the bass blast that intermittently brings the excitement to a higher level. Nuaru’s “Feathers” is nearly its polar opposite, its sampled female vocals as soothing as petting a cat in the direction of the fur. There’s enough here to make the album a guilty pleasure. Resist if you can; but don’t feel bad if you give in. (Richard Allen)