Wednesday, 4 December 2013

REVIEW: Various Artists - 'Crystallized - Celebrating 15 Years Of Rocket Recordings' (Rocket Recordings)

Rocket is a label based in Bristol and London that has brought some genuinely imaginative and brave artists to people's attention, including the awesome Teeth Of The Sea, Gnod, and the superb Swedish tribal psych-funk merchants Goat. As 2013 draws to a close, the label celebrate their 15th birthday with this fantastic 12 track compilation.

A fine way to begin things, Teeth Of The Sea's contribution 'Run Red' is like something that you'd hear soundtracking a movie scene where all human life is extinct, a deep apocalyptic drone pierced with creepy synth growls and screaming guitar. Blood Sport's 'Dry Water (Redux)' deals in insane noise, weird time signatures and rickety instrumentation. It's a bit like three songs playing at once. Those who enjoy a highly unhinged racket will not be disappointed. Vision Fortune's buzzing 'Forgot How To Swim' skips and trips through steel drums and a chorus of frightening downtuned moans, a compellingly odd thing indeed. On Gnod's 'Holy Empire', intergalactic ambience builds into chattering beats underlined by distant echoes of almost shamanic voices. It's another highlight, as are the pounding space rock of Uran's comparatively brief 'Emp' and the hypnotic eastern flow of 'National Drone' by Hills, with its excellent percussion and squealing guitar. 

With 'Short Fuse', Rollbars bring lo-fi psych-trip hop, covered by a shower of satellite signal bleeps and cosmic squiggles, while the heavily distorted 15 minute crunch of Shit And Shine's 'Please Don't Share' will be too extreme for some, certainly a headfuck of the most bizarre and uncompromising kind. On 'Cat's Cradle' by Cherrystones, free jazz meets analog synth and unsettling guitar, before the ghostly howl of The Lay Llamas' aptly titled 'African Spacecraft' builds from a clockwork tick into heavy tribal funk, offering sheets of feedback and spacey grooves to produce another high point of this compilation.

The awesome Goat deliver another dazzler, as their 'Goatjam' wires afrobeat with almost Can-esque repetition to create a mesmerising listening experience. The closing 'Anthropomorphis' by Anthroprophh is built on urgent tribal drums, eerie electronic drones and vicious guitars, a blistering climax to a terrific compilation. It certainly doesn't go quietly. A celebration of the music that this creative hotbed of a label has released over the last 15 years and a proud showcase of their finest acts, 'Crystallized' is well worth trying out if you're looking for an eclectic collection of imaginative sounds from an array of fascinating, boundary-pushing artists. 8/10

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