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Some Roads Lead Back Again

Various Artists
Some Paths Lead Back Again
(Highpoint Lowlife)

The official title of this release is Some Roads Lead Back Again - A Compilation By the Marcia Blaine School For Girls and in addition to competing for longest title of the year, it compiles 19 tracks from 10 different Scottish artists (almost all of which are unsigned) for a smorgasboard of underground electronic music. Like a lot of compilations, the range of styles represented on the release is pretty widely-varied, and while it doesn't always make for the smoothest listen, it will mean that just about everyone should find something on the 2CD set that they can enjoy.

On one extreme, the release opens with an absolutely pummeling rhythmic track entitled "It'll All Be" by Izu. With little other than electronic squelches to provide any sort of melody, the track pounds relentlessly for almost four minutes before giving way to the minimal glinting beauty of "Sleepy Fish" by Daigoro. From there, it's back onto more rhythmic leanings with the short sputtering outburst of "An Introduction to Malcomatics" by Tersh Jetterax before Production Unit drops the glitch-hop "Ruskoline Monster" (which sounds like something that could have been releases on the M3rck label).

The Marcia Blaine School For Girls is an actual group, and they contribute a long track to the compilation that's actually one of the best things on the entire release. "Routed To The Spot" is a slowly-evolving piece that recalls the shimmering work of Eno and unfolds over twelve minutes that don't feel a bit long. The second disc opens with another banging track from Izu entitled "Now Here" that is interesting, but makes me wonder how one could handle much more than an EP of like-minded stuff while Feld contributes "Beka," their second track on the compilation, and another one that sounds like a nice throwback to early 90s-era Warp Artificial Intelligence IDM.

As a whole, the second disc of music isn't nearly as strong as the first, as The Village Orchestra turns in a meandering piece of echo-drenched electronics that doesn't really go anywhere and even the second tracks from Daigoro and Tersh Jetterax fail to stand up nearly as well as their offerings on the first CD. In addition to the music, there are 3 videos on the second disc for tracks that don't appear on the musical portion. All in all, there are some tasty bits on the release, but like many compilations pulling together a wide variety of artists and styles, it lags in spots.

Rating: 6