Various – Seed Records Volume One

With VOLUME ONE, Seed Records deliver their sixth release – a 12-track CD sampler of forthcoming material featuring artists from the live roster. If you’ve been wise enough to get down to their legendary Aldwych tube station parties, you’ll know exactly what this means – over 60 minutes of off-kilter, bit-crushed compositions, veering from breakbeat and 2-step to uneasy ambience and electro. Representing an impressive range of both upcoming and established artists, this is less an introduction to the label as an indication of where it’s headed.

Kicking things off in surprisingly glitchless style, On/Off’s metronomic synths interweave and pan like the nimblest of Plaid motifs. Fledgling 2-stepper Ardisson brings the rave with a demo version of Hardware Handshake’s Stop! – breakbeat-driven and junglistic, this should keep bassbin fans on their toes. Next up is Robert Tubb – aka Cursorminer – who pops the hood on his digital funk four-wheeler and lets rip with 3 minutes and 44 seconds of suspension-bouncing beat mayhem. This is an incredible track, and one of the highlights of the compilation.

Taking things in an altogether different direction, Kansas City Prophets join the mix with some dark mid-paced electro, effortlessly heralding new arrivals The Video Age; who debut with some agile clipped vocals spun around an infectious groove. Definitely an act to look out for.

Not content to lay down the strong openers before coasting to safety, VOLUME ONE is a determined showcase which refuses to sag in the middle. And so we find label co-founders Posthuman dropping some of their most finely-crafted ambience, stealthily building synth pads and buried vocals into a seriously tight drum-progamming workout. Hiding behind his raspy vocoder and queasy sideshow melodies, Chicago resident [snyzch] steps up to deliver an absolute classic with live favourite Snort Porridge (Do Me Mix). The breakneck mentalism continues with Peacefish’s Pushkin, some sombre string composition struggling for air behind shape-shifting beats. With one eye on the dancefloor, these tracks are typical of Seed’s live performances – unrelenting, quirky and robotic.

Doubtful Guest’s slightly uninspired Tips is perhaps the only low point of this compilation, but this is quickly left behind as things slide towards more atmospheric territories. Take for instance Jazzfinger, who comes up with some of the starkest funeral home ambience since Chris Clark; followed by the light-fingered Cold Fusion Mafia and his looping mechanoid rhythms. Track of the album though is Digitonal’s sublimely orchestrated Snowflake Vectors. Startlingly well-produced and with some truly gorgeous harmonies, this exceeds the high expectations established by their Toytronic debut.

With an ep series featuring Cursorminer and Digitonal on the horizon, a [snyzch] seven inch, plus full lengths from Ardisson and Posthuman, it looks like Seed have things pretty much sorted. Volume One is an accomplished and varied collection, as well as an impressive manifesto for the label’s future; and for only a fiver, there’s really no excuse not to pick this one up.

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29 May 2003

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