ack to the future—return to the 80s. If this be the mantra of today's retroclassic-but-phuture-gazing electronic elite, then another aspect of the cocaine era has resurfaced—postmodern pastiche. A vapid collage of disparate tracks array this compilation—one minute hard electro from the grit slides into Nu-New Wave, the next minute jazzy house collapses onto industrial house (if we can call it that) and downtempo synthpop bumbles along with post-Kraut industrial-synthpop. A mad fashion parade of wild pastel colours? It's just Ghostly International attempting to grapple with the diversity of their label (skeletons in the closet, perhaps). Diversity is a fine thing. But to bend and attune diversity to something new in the collage—a positivity of the pastiche—requires something other or more than simply slapping a haberdashery of beats into an assorted varieties blender. Ghostly International is a splendid label—I know of their work primarily through their harder electro beats—but this compilation remains little more than a label sampler (in other words: it's lacking flow, it's lacking a curator, a thread, or a tie, a themeatic or hinge for this smorgasboard to swing on).
In any case—who’s present in the grab-all buffet? Highlights include PreFuse 73's "megamix" of Dabrye 73.3—a vocalic rewind job sent through the algorithm-flange and the slow dropbassbeat cut-and-slice; Dabyre's instrumentalic hit-hop jam, "Making it Pay;" Charles Manier's industrial synthpop kick-out, "At the Bottle;" Telefon Tel Aviv's remix of Midwest Product's "A Genuine Display"—abstract glick-d'n'b at the bubbling meditative tabla-pool; and Kiln's muffled IDM monstrosity, "Ero"... Then there's a whole bunch of other tracks, fine OK, but together I'm left wondering—why not spend the time curating a real drift of the label, an encapsulation or a series of directions? Yet, we are left, then, asking—perhaps this is such a tactic, and I'm just not catching the drift. The connections from various shades of retro-downtempo (IDM, electro, house, industrial) and their flow into Nu-New-No-Wave-Rock is one that remains obscure, yet historically charted. Nevertheless, it's like mixing Thrill Kill Kult with Soft Cell on downers while Fleetwood Mac sneaks blow-hits in the wings (in other words: weird).
Reviewed by: tobias c. van Veen
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01