Various Artists ~ the opposite of aloof vol. 2

Attractive Coincidence (ACR) introduced itself early this year with the opposite of aloof vol. 1, and over the past few months has become a sweet success story.  A dozen artist releases, great promotions and an ear for quality have helped the London label to succeed where others have not.

The label is already beginning to expand its sound palette; while we listed the first compilation under the Ambient banner, the second falls under Experimental.  Consider for example the opening track, Foundling‘s “Half Light Soup”, a work of drone and groan in which the sonic walls seem to collapse.  ACR is taking risks, and we suspect they will pay great dividends.  “This is strange music”, says the label.  Strange is good.  New signees theydon boys extend the intrigue by starting with electric guitar and dissembled singing before shifting into a long, sharp drone, while ot to not to begins with thumb piano and overheard conversation, then breaks out a soft song.  These three tracks use voice as instrument, but the next batch connects through the use of field recordings, the conversation of “This” giving way to the traffic of TMRPOE‘s “Seamless”.  The title is apt, as the sequencing gives the set a unified feeling ~ a difficult accomplishment in light of the variety.

If the sound grows more ambient after this, it’s only to reassure the early adopters.  ACR does not yet boast a signature sound, but it’s not willing to discard what made it a success story in the first place.  The ambient artists provide the building block from which the roster expands.  The album’s soothing center takes in ambience and soft drone, although even the most sedate tracks contain an element of danger ~ a dark undertone or a dissonant surge.  The best example may be David Petráš‘ “ℓate ᶯight listᵋning to a ℬroken rᵃdio #3”, only a minute long, but evocative in title and sound.  Just don’t try to memorize the name!

If one is looking for a common thread, one might find it in the sonic shifts that occur within tracks.  Midway through Adel Mede‘s “the garden of solar powered night owls”, digitized thunder signals the approach of a darker layer of strings, while Hegira Moya does the opposite by withdrawing a layer of synth.  Each piece serves as a metaphor for the label itself, avoiding ruts by preserving the element of surprise.  We’re looking forward to seeing where this new road leads.  (Richard Allen)

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