Various Artists - In the Loop 5 - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Various Artists - In the Loop 5

by Rich Morris Rating:7 Release Date:2010-02-22

Dublab, the LA-based non-profit internet radio station, has been releasing its In the Loop vinyl series for a while now (check the '5' in that title). For this latest installment, it's moved to a new home on the Anticon label. Since Dublab's past roster of DJs, guests and contributors has included the illustrious likes of Flying Lotus, Cluster, Devendra Banhart and Animal Collective, it something of a no-brainer that their releases are always worth checking out.

In the Loop 5 is divided into a 'Future' and a 'Roots' side, although pastoral vibes, tribal rhythms and 'exotic' instrumentation feature heavily on both. The 'Future' side kicks off with The Ruby Suns' 'Kenya Dig It?', taken from their 2008 album Sea Lion. The song uses a heady mix of Beatles-esque Lewis Carroll-overdosed psychedelia, Beach Boys blue sky harmonies and 60s girl group dynamics. It certainly makes a likeable start to the compilation, but you feel that listening to it too often might rot your teeth. More interesting is second track 'Portofino' by Teenage Fantasy, a duo of collage kids from Oberlin, Ohio, which manages to straddle the voguish dream pop of Animal Collective and Yeasayer with the more esoteric sounds being made by avant-hip hopper Flying Lotus and UK artists like Starkey and Rustie who are actively pushing back the frontiers of dubstep. Definitely worth keeping an eye on these guys.

'Miles Away' by Hecuba sounds, wonderfully, like the shaky world music anti-rock explored by The Raincoats on their seminal but oft-forgotten album Odyshape - that is until a spine-tingling minimal electro pulse emerges half-way through, turning 'Miles Away' into a genuinely odd and strangely funky piece of music. Unfortunately, after such a captivating triturative of songs, the 'Future' side ends not with a bang but with a ugly frat-boy whimper from Tucson' s Zackey Force Funk with 'Bombs', which sounds like an excerpt from a Tangerine Dream opus overlaid with a lo-fi recording of Fred Durst having a breakdown. Not pleasant.

Aside from the activity of changing sides and replacing the needle, is doubtful you'll notice a great difference as you move from the 'Future' side to the 'Roots' side, since tribal, field music-style rhythms play a part in most of the music on side one. Lucky Dragons' 'Are We Alright?' takes this to a new level; its polyrhythmic kalimba and whistle sound is pleasingly unvarnished but takes up nearly four minutes not actually going anywhere. Presumably authenticity is the point, but it sounds like something Flying Lotus would use as a starting point for a far more interesting sonic adventure; something which might sound like the hip hop musique concrète of 'Roomthumpr' by matthewdavid and OBA, which proves to be one of the most curious, diffuse and bewitching tracks on this compilation.

The inventiveness continues with the eastern-tinged fairy tale psychedelia of Julia Holter's 'Moto Perpetuo' and the fuzzy, Eno-influenced post rock drone of 'Mind Haze Is Clear Delight' by Portland's White Rainbow. All in all, this a pretty consistent and consistently exciting compilation which, with the exception of Zackey Force Funk's 'Bombs', works well listened to in one go from start to finish.

Richard Morris

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