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Branches And Routes

Various Artists
Branches And Routes
(Fat Cat Records)

Over the course of the past 10 years, Fat Cat Records has put out some of the most interesting and widely-varying music out there. Their catalogue crosses genre with ease and in addition to launching the career of several now big-name artists, they've put out a hearty amount of limited releases. Both of the above are well-represented on this nicely-priced 2CD collection of both previously unreleased, rarities, and new tracks from the wide variety of artists that you'd expect from the label.

For most people, the highlights of this collection are going to be the out-of-print tracks and previously unreleased ones. Probably the biggest name group to contribute something unavailable elsewhere is Sigur Ros, and their track "Eg Mun Laeknast!" is all stripped-down warm flows of guitar drones and swelling soundscape. Although it takes a slightly different path (and more successful one), it continues down the path charted on their recent untitled single. Stromba (who I've admittingly never heard before) turns in an amazing dark, instrumental hip-hop leaning track while Seen (a group made up of members of Stereolab and other groups) drops the dub influenced "Slow Slow Slow."

The other big draw of the release is the inclusion of lots of great tracks that were released in split series on the label and have since gone out of print. "Badminton Girl" by Fennesz is another lovely slab of his ultra-processed noise/guitar tracks, while Matmos' "Freak N You" sounds like a definite precursor to Drew Daniels recent booty-liscious side-project Soft Pink Truth. Although most Björk fans will have already heard it, the included remix of her "All Is Full Of Love" by Funkstorung is a deconstructed gem. For those that picked up Make It Pop! from Giddy Motors and wanted to hear more, there's "Baddie Who?" from an early 7" release.

And really, there are tons of such finds on the release that spans well over two hours worth of music. Kid 606 brings the ambience with "Die In California" (also from a split-series release) while Duplo Remote mixes spluttering beat programming and warm melodic passages ala Richard D James era Aphex Twin. Even the previously-released tracks seem to be chosen with care, pulling out great tracks from the likes of Set Fire To Flames ("Steal Compass / Drive North / Disappear" from Sings Reign Rebuilder), Múm ("Green Grass Of Tunnel" from Finally We Are No One), and Mice Parade ("Pursuant To The Vibe" from Mookoondi). While the wildly differing styles sometimes make for abrupt changes, the sequencing of the release is done well to avoid major shocks, and the unreleased and out-of-print inclusions are pretty much worth the price of admission alone. May Fat Cat go strong for at least another 10.

Rating: 7.75