he honorable Miss Bpitch is quite a punk. She prides herself as being incredibly diverse and independent, boldly releasing a bizarre plethora of records that range everywhere from obnoxiously beat-damaged IDM and fried acid-tech to anthemic trance mixed with Falco. Everyone in the neighborhood seems to like her, even if she doesn’t make as many public appearances as she used to. That all changes today, as Lady Bpitch is off to a huge job interview where she tries to claim the highly coveted position of “Best Electronic Label in Germany” over at Techno Fetishists, Inc. Like the rest of her competitors, Madame Bpitch pulls out all the stops on her interview and makes herself as outlandishly exciting, infectious, sexy, and shameless as possible, trying to extract every ounce of rapture from her audience.
This is the scenario that plays out in my head every time I spin Camping, the sterling compilation from the Berlin-based imprint Bpitch Control. It’s the vision of a label cleaning up their abstraction and going straight for pop, sex, glamour, and the dancefloor. With twenty unmixed tracks and nothing cracking the four-minute barrier, any stodgy sense of “techno purism” is diminished and replaced with a feather boa and a neon haircut. The amazing quality to this release is a tribute to the agility and flexibility of the label, which can seemingly go all out clubby or retreat into splintered abstraction at the flip of a hat.
Label head Ellen Allien seems to have been a bit cautious about releasing a new compilation ever since her Berlinette album became such a crossover favorite with both techno and indie fans, as it has been two-and-a-half years since the release of Gemeinsam (the last Bpitch comp.) Camping is the first in a proposed series of compilations that connect the label’s past releases with the present ones, and celebrates the musical community that connects all of the artists. This latter fact is something common among German dance labels, where every artist has their own individual vision but still remains true to the sonic blueprint that their label mates have worked hard to create and refine.
It almost seems redundant to go through the tracklisting, which is stuffed to the gills with hits that even casual fans of the label will know. These are tracks that you see popping on mix CDs and blogs all the time, like Kiki’s massive acid-disco nugget “Luv Sikk,” Sylvie Marks’ chilly aphrodisiacs “We Electric” (aka “Baby I Am Electric”) and “Blütenspaß,” Sascha Funke’s brilliantly camp cover of Bros’ “When Will I Be Famous,” and Tomas Andersson’s squelchy “Numb.” Lest we forget “Stadtkind,” “Wish,” and “Sehnsucht,” three cut-up electroid punches from Ellen Allien, two recent highlights from the singing robots of Smash TV, and the rarely heard 12” mix of Kiki’s goth pastiche “The End of The World.” Even the left turns into folk (Timtim), trance (Paul Kalkbrenner), and skittery IDM (Modeselektor, Apparat) manage to keep the momentum at a high level.
I’m wondering if any other labels will take a lesson from the tracklisting and logic of Camping. It may be peculiar to note that “greatest hits” compilations from labels aren’t as popular as ones that showcase a few new tracks, a few old ones, and maybe some rarities. Understandably, independent labels want to retain or build a sense of integrity and respect with their listeners and not be seen as crass business executives who are shamelessly commercial. Yet, look at the scraps we are left with! Imagine if labels like Matador, Kill Rock Stars, Kranky, Kompakt, Def Jux, Warp, Underground Resistance, 12K, Anticon, and Tomlab all put out their most popular songs and tracks on compilations instead of delegating them to 10” orange vinyl and $20 import CDs. If done properly, said compilations would be a way for listeners to empathize with the ideals, beliefs, and hype of a label without exerting the painstaking amount of energy it takes to sift through the entirety of their back catalog.
I say this as a person who suffers from both completism and a longing for instant gratification. We live in a digital era where we have access to more media we can even dream of, let alone sort through. We owe it to ourselves more than ever to help people sort through theses haystacks to find the needle. Camping is the road map. I’ll meet you in the tent.