March 2014 National Music Reviews

Review: Various Artists – Trilogy Part I, Heaven; Part II, Earth; Part III, Hell

Various Artists
Trilogy Part I – Heaven
Underground Alliance Records
Street: 08.29.13
Underground Alliance Records = 90’s Warp + Plug Research + AUN
Are you up on former Yugoslavian underground electronic music? No, you are not. However, listening to this compilation from Underground Alliance will give you a billion-point word in the Hipster version of “Have you heard of?” Heaven is the first of a trilogy of Croatian, Serbian, Slovenian, Montenegran and Macedonian artists who, as the name suggests, play in a vein of subdued electronic music. Ambient, dark-ambient, drone, post-industrial, downtempo and every other shading of qualifier-laden electronic music find their way on this compilation. That soundtrack from your favorite ’90s computer game, that made it on here, too. There are some great finds—Atom Output, Serbian producer’s track “Early Summer Cells” stands out among a lot of fodder. These compilations are scattershot blasts representative of an apparently large community of Balkan electronic artists. There are some diamonds in the rough here. –Ryan Hall

Various Artists

Trilogy Part II – Earth

Underground Alliance Records

Street: 09.20.13

Underground Alliance Records = In The Dark: Detroit is Back + Rephlex Records + BPitch Control
In the trilogy of ex-Yugoslavian electronic artists beneath the Underground Alliance label, Earth is positioned under the shimmering, ambient tones in Heaven and above the dark, industrial/noise soundscapes of Hell. Earth is for dancing—techno, boilerplate Dubstep, EDM, a random dub/dancehall track, IDM and a whole host of what Freud calls “the narcissism of small differences” make their way onto this compilation. A lot of this is quite good. De Ja Fuz’s minimalism is a sort of Burial-meets-Vangelis affair that just feels Eastern European. Phoenix Cain’s track, “Arachna Hive,” surges with huge synth pulls propelled by an Acid House beat with a couple of really well placed breaks. While it may seem there is a lot of looking back to electronica’s ’90s heyday on this record, it isn’t the kind of fuzzy, retromancy of American producers mining Detroit’s storied past—I just think they go H.A.M all the time. –Ryan Hall

Various Artists

Trilogy Part III – Hell

Underground Alliance Records

Street: 10.31.13

Underground Alliance Records = Front Line Assembly + Razed in Black + Feindflug
If the Laser Viking taught us anything, it’s that the Eastern Europeans don’t fuck around when it comes to their electronic music. About as serious and as scary as that dude is, I would put my money on ex-Yugoslavian noise/industrial/breakcore any day of the week. This is my favorite album in the trilogy of electronic artists in the Underground Alliance Records trilogy. The compilation consists of music on the darker/sinister side of electronic music: harsh noise, muscular industrial music, seizure-inducing breakcore. Never a huge fan of industrial, I really find the straight noise tracks of Broken Bird and D.sub0 especially intriguing. Youth A.D. however, totally go for broke (complete with spooky, throat-singing monks) on their intense industrial track, “Kult Vuka.” Wasteland Port Caledon reminds me of a slightly darker Porn Sword Tobacco. What, you don’t listen to Croatian breakcore? Laaaame. –Ryan Hall