Send me your track


V/A - Only



There’s a strange irony in the inaccessibility of some of the more sophisticated dance music today. Deep down, all music of this nature is of a functional nature, designed for a purpose. So it’s somewhat peculiar that many labels choose to release it on formats that are limited, and in the case of Semantica, just to 100 copies. I personally don’t have a problem with it, given that the internet has made the proliferation of data so widespread and available to everyone. Yet it has bred, perhaps understandably given the financial constraints of releasing music of this nature, an aesthetic that I would liken to something like a clothes boutique. The label can charge more than normal because seasoned buyers will happily pay the extra price. Whilst I think it’s a logical move in many respects, I do fear the long-term effects for music released in this way.

Anyway, onto the music. Spanish label Semantica have been pushing out 100 copies only releases from acts such as Jimmy Edgar, ERP, Vladislav Delay and Plant43 for a while now, and this CD is a good insight into the sort of slightly detached, atmospheric techno and electro that label boss Svreca is pushing.

Fellow Madrid artist Annie Hall gets things off to a good start with the flowing melodies of “Kanji”. Eschewing the more uptempo style of previous material, she combines traditional electro pulses with some nice moments of space and relative silence. I hope that we hear a lot more of her soon. Gerard Hanson’s “Sensory Process” is somewhat formulaic for him, but as his style is so unique, it’s difficult to really find fault with it. Jimmy Edgar’s “Sleight of Mouth” relies however a little too much on effects, and doesn’t really go anywhere. Matters are rescued by the IDM stomp of Coushin’s “Structrualist”, which whilst not exactly pushing anything new, does have a refined sheen to it. Avidya’s “Reverse Attitude” keeps up the Autechre influence with a track that carries on where “Confield” left out - all sludgy beats and dark atmospheres. Whilst the ideas are good, it lacks something to make me praise it.

Fortunately, Ideograma’s “Entidad Energetica”, one of the stand out tracks, gives a good example of the originality in the nascent Madrid electro scene, which is represented by just over half the tracks on the album. Although the presence of Drexciya weighs heavily, it has an amusing, almost comical character to it that propels it along. Label boss Svreca’s “Tommy Vicananza” closes the album on a somewhat sombre note, with dark, sinister melodies eclipsing a harsh electro beat.

Electro is at a peculiar crossroads at the moment, being caught between the dark cloud of influence that is Gerald Donald and James Stinson, a devotion to all things 80’s,  and the technological dystopia pushed by the likes of UK artists such as the now defunct Bitstream. In Holland they took the almost idiotic reverie of Italodisco and created something unexpected. Here, Semantica show another side, although apart from the long-standing influence of Autechre, it has yet to develop into something definitive. This compilation does hint at some interesting ideas, but it arguably needs a little more isolation. Perhaps the 100 copies only idea is a good one after all.

Toby Frith


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