Monday, 9 September 2013

Preview| V/A - µCollective, Vol. 1

Following the dramatic closure of 8bitcollective, Sam Wray, 8bc’s then last hope, created a site to fill the hole the collective’s ruin would leave. µCollective was the end result, launching in October of 2012. In a bid to expand, µCollective is putting out their first compilation, a physical-only collection of sixteen tracks to debut at SuperByte. Featuring hugely revered acts (cTrix, Paza, nordloef), lesser known artists (Balloonbear, Skin Walker, <3an) and those somewhere in between (Auxcide, Holy Konni, Decktonic), ‘Vol. 1’ hosts a hugely varied selection of talent.

Getting the negative out of the way: the album’s introduction is weak. Beginning with Byzanite’s inessential take on EDM, ‘Cakebomber’, most listeners are going to quickly see through the thinly veiled lack of substance. ‘Cakebomber’ is followed by the underwhelming ‘Mysterio Guitar Sloth’ by Holy Konni, a track that’s nice enough, but doesn’t even touch the quality of his recent output (though the guitar sampling is a nice touch). Elsewhere, Paza throws up the compilation’s most disappointing moment. ‘Damn Lokki’ constantly builds to absolutely nothing, all grating ‘melodies’ and tiresome percussion in a faux-gabber abomination. 

Elsewhere though, the quality is incredibly high. PANDAstar‘s ‘Delirium’ features the album’s most euphoric melody, unforgettable and beautifully sweet, whilst <3an’s ‘Mariana Trench’ seeps watery, lucid delivery, a blend of slow-moving bass and deep ambient undercurrents. Kubbi manages to meld progressive electro with pop melodies and danceable beats on ‘Void Pt 2 (Renovation Mix), and Auxcide supplies those trademark, epic space melodies, slathered over thick layers of gorgeous harmony.

The best tracks on ‘Vol. 1’ are those where the artists outdo themselves. Decktonic’s ‘Dancing Is Permitted’ is a vigorous froth of summer melodies and strong kicks that are irresistible. ‘Czar’, Cheapshot’s contribution, is swagger at its most effective, conveying groove through enormous beats, making it the most exciting Cheapshot track in some time. nordloef’s outstanding ‘Mark II’, repeats this excitement, showing the veteran’s ability to remain as fresh and melodically robust as ever. The album’s crowning glory, however, is the final track, Vince Kaichan’s ‘Sailboat’. Full of striking motifs, harmonies, and layers of delicate nuance, ‘Sailboat’ is a testament to Vince’s growing prowess. It not only sounds strong beside the likes of cTrix and xyce, but it towers above them, sounding like an off-cut from Roboctopus' recent and fantastic 'Disco.txt'.

Minus problems with the track sequencing, some of the thematic jumps are too violent to create a cohesive listening experience; µCollective’s debut compilation is fantastic. Sam Wray’s curation deserves special praise, his fusing of the old established and the new revolutionaries works perfectly, and almost every track brims with quality. With all proceeds going to support µCollective plus mastering by DJ Cutman and art by Love Through Cannibalism, this is one package you owe yourself to get if you’re attending SuperByte this year.

PS: If you are attending Superbyte this year, come and say hi! I'll be on the dancefloor or at the bar wearing a bison t-shirt and a ponytail xo 

01. Byzanite- Cakebomber
02. Holy Konni- Mysterio Guitar Sloth
03. PANDAstar- Delirium
04. xyce- Arbre De Viw
05. Paza- Damn Lokki
06. <3an- Mariana Trench
07. Cheapshot- Czar
08. Decktonic- Dancing Is Permitted 
09. Balloonbear- HAVOK
10. Skin Walker- Shanghai At Night
11. nordloef- Mark II
12. Auxcide- Threads
13. gwEm- High Gain
14. cTrix- Ion Cruising 
15. Kubbi- Void Pt 2 (Renovation Mix)
16. Vince Kaichan- Sailboat