This is exactly what I hoped would happen with Fridge. After the critical success of their Happiness album from last year, a little bit more of their amazing music is being made available for affordable prices on this side of the Atlantic. With their first couple albums, and the subsequent Eph release, one had to fork over pretty high prices to hear their music, and although it was worth it, there aren't a lot of people willing to pay 25 dollars for 8 songs.
Fortunately, Fridge is available for the masses with this excellent 2CD re-release, which will help most people expand their back catalogues of the group without breaking a sweat. Not only do you get the full-length, 8-track Eph release (which originally came out on Go! Beat in 1999, but the second disc contains almost an hour of music, including the import only Kinoshita/Terasaka single, the 4-track "Of" single, and two seperate remixes that have previously been unreleased. Technically, it should probably be called Eph+++ instead of simply Eph Reissue.
At any rate, this release is the full-length that came out previously to Happiness, and although there are definitely stylistic differences, it's easy to hear the group working into more of a developed sound than on their earlier Ceefax and Semaphore releases. The disc gives a good workout with the more groove-based tracks like "Ark" and "Of," but shows their more subtle side as well with tracks like the treated melodies of "Meum," which foreshadowed the quiet beauty of tracks like "Cut Up Piano And Xylophone." "Bad Ischl" still stands as one of the groups more interesting tracks to date, mixing staggered drumming, saxophone, violin, and multiple layers of electronic squiggles for something just slightly unlike anything you've heard before.
"Transience" and "Of" create a one-two punch with live drumming sounds and sampled sounds filling in the background while "Aphelon" closes out the Eph release in epic style, with a nearly 10 minute build, starting out with a funky upright bass rhythm and some scraping violin before morphing into an elegant, lush track in which all elements seem to meld together perfectly. The second disc in the collection offers up the absolutely rumbling "Kinoshita" and "Terasaka," the former sounding eerily like the precursor to Manitoba's "Dundas Ontario" remix off the Give'R EP. The four different versions of "Of" are different enough that the midsection of the disc rolls by at a nice pace, while the remixes by Herbert and Patrick Pulsinger close things out in fine fashion as well.
Basically, if you've been putting off buying some of the older releases in the Fridge catalogue, you need wait no longer. For the bargain price of $13, you can get 16 tracks and well over 100 minutes of Fridge releases that would have to date probably cost you almost 40 dollars to purchase seperately. If that's not enough motivation, the music itself is really damn good as well. It's slightly more groove-oriented than their newer work, but because of the differences show quite an interesting evolution of the bands sound.