"n5md" is a new label established by cadoo of gridlock. this is not a completely unexpected development, since both gridlock members were getting more and more interested in idm sound, which became quite apparent in the latest gridlock/o2 material
. this first compilation by the label (which, by the way, releases its material on minidisks only, hence the name) pulls together a very impressive lineup of electronic artists from quite a few countries across the world.
this compilation mostly consists of more melodic and minimal idm acts; most of the tracks are built using the same formula - combining pleasant melodic mellow strings and intricate, at times minimal, at times quite involved and complex, percussion. while the style of almost every track is somewhat similar, each artist managed to express his unique vision. I was very impressed by how emotional all the tracks were; luckily, unlike many idm compilations out there, there was almost no dry technicality and soulless experimentation.
my favorites on this compilation include opening "eopi" by canadian spark. the track is done along the lines of conventional idm - mellow warm keys are contrasted by intricate crunchy percussion producing little sonic splinters that are enveloped in gentle melodic textures. as usual, arovane shines with "levd/a:ctrel." this track features sparse rough beats that are dropped on the surface of the track in a disjointed manner; small atonal background melody develops, stroked by warm noises that together weave a transparent glowing texture.
another favorite is the track by ml ("m-luh"); for those of you that have been around for a while, the name "thine eyes" should ring a bell. ml is the successor of this project. "drg/n/drp" captured me with its balance of atonal ambient and rigid mechanized percussion that dominates majority of this track. heavy opening bassline instantly reminded me of early gridlock, later on small rigid beats join flowing synthetic strings. intricate percussion features strangely elongated beats, stuttering twisting textures, little breaks and small sonic eruptions that seem to live on their own. by the middle of the track the sound moves into a nice ambient piece with long pauses, small cut-up noises, clicks and distant humming bass. this almost cinematic landscape finally returns back to the original percussion textures just before it became too boring.
precenphix displayed slightly darker, more moodier sound on "redleaves". constantly pulsating percussion waves and laid-back darker strings were arranged on top of flowery electronica. the track slowly fades out into atmospheric piece that moves back to fast-paced percussion layers, still retaining its ambience. I guess its "full" richer sound was what attracted me.
closing track by neutral ("recoil") turned out to be one of my absolute favorites on this compilation. nicole miller not only impressed me with a nice composition and dense arrangements that were so refreshingly atypical for standard idm, but also with a balance of percussion elements that joined fully developed melody only towards the middle of the track. compressed heaviness and unusual nature of that percussion nicely contrasted fluid and rich melodic nature of the track, displaying all the best characteristics of this musician.
another track that should not be overlooked is titled "tsutu" by russian electronic outfit eu. they are quite well-known among the russian idm crowd, and it is nice to see their unexpected (at least for me) appearance on this compilation. "tsutu" is the heaviest track on this compilation, featuring almost "industrial" approach to sound elements. the track is full of corroded controlled beats, raw edgy percussion and frequencies. at the same time it has pleasantly stretched-out tidal waves of atonal touches that balance out static outbursts.
o2 presents its ".0002" that is built on slowly glowing synthline, gentle small keys and random noises. tiny clicks, twists, bleeps and swaying melodic undertones create a very minimal, transparent atmosphere. this track is rather pleasant, but not nearly as soft and emotional as ".0001" off gridlock/o2 split.
since I have been listening to sybarite so much lately, it was a nice surprise to see their labelmates lillienthal with "sucrosesand;" the track that has strangely "acoustic" organic sound as opposed to mechanized "standard" idm. raw percussion, mysterious basslines back up faster percussion and atonal acoustic strings. strange beats are crumbling and collapsing, moving in a liquid volatile fashion.
rivel delivers a combination of small firm beats and simple echoing melodic elements on "de-gress" that after a while get reduced to a few loops that slowly fade out into nothingness. it seems that the music is squeezed out of vcam's "dirwhildagmer." the sound is pushing through, getting tangled in slow swirling noises and reluctantly developing melody.
the only problem I had with this release was that it followed too closely the stylistic elements established by the idm genre. while all the artists approached it with creativity and talent, only a few manage to break out of it and create music that is not that easily classifiable (but it could be just me, simply overdosing on idm). apart from that, I can only recommend this compilation to anyone, and keep my eyes on all those new talents I encountered for the first time.