Various: Cataract Beats

Pitchcadet/Aii, 2000

If someone were to ask me what I like in electronic music, I would point them to Cataract Beats. Seldom have I heard a compilation that manages to sound unified despite encompassing a wide range of artists and styles. V/vm opens with the noise they’re known for. Although their’s is not a pleasant track, it cleans the auditory palette for what’s to come. Funkstörung’s “Tank” is much more gratifying with a subtle melody Autechre would be proud of over a driving beat and playful bells. Michael Fakesch is given yet another chance to please with “Sega,” off his Marion LP. “Sega” is probably the best track off Marion and it certainly melts into Cataract Beats with its structured rhythmic meanderings. Datathief’s contribution is a bit grating, but it’s expressive and complex, so I’ll forgive the sonic warfare. Multicast’s “Foehn” is definitely more my style with lush echoey chords over clicks and clacks.

M-tec’s contemplative “Nerve (Removed Mix)” serves as a good segue into more low-key compositions. Next Accelera Deck serves up an almost ambient dish of noises. Unfortunately the swishes and clatters don’t really lead anywhere. Yunx’s “Ellipsis” keeps the comp. from dragging with a steady beat and more mandatory clicking. The melody is slow-building and pleasant while the bassline is cheerfully retro. “Ptunkuk” by Woodenspoon (Mark Clifford of Seefeel and Disjecta fame) sounds like a late-eighties anthem. It’s one of my favorite cuts in this collection thanks to its chopped-up Human League feel. Max Tundra’s “Doggy Biscuits” is simply bizarre with sped up samples, NES-era horns over bells, and killer sine wave bass. Finally Commercial’s “Commercial 11” offers humorous vocal samples over drum and bass beats and booms. If only it were a few minutes shorter, it would be a flippant send-off. Unfortunately it drags by the three-minute mark.

Even though this compilation’s fairly cohesive, it wouldn’t do these artists justice not to go track by track. Pitchcadet and Aii always do a great job of finding talent. This compilation’s worth the extra effort. Track it down if you want a good time-capsule of late ’90s indy electronica.

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