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V/A - "Between Two Points" 2cd (12K/L-NE)

Sound in relation to silence is the passion for many digital music makers of the new millenium, and the experimental and designer approach is the focus of the American labels 12K and L-NE. On "Between Two Points", each cd of this 2cd set is loosely devoted to the roster of each label, but stylistically speaking, both discs display a wide range of ideas. This collection is best approached from each artist's viewpoint, but most of the artists featured sculpt sounds with tones beyond the ability of man-made construction, blurring the line between sound design and popular electronic music, and in some ways extending the definition of ambient music into the twenty-first century.

The first disc gets off to a great start with a nice resonating piece by the artist known as SOGAR. His track "L1" is a nice surround-sound mood enhancer, highlighting deep tones, and whose glitchy-clicks surreptitiously segue into NOTO's rhythmic, click-pop piece. Carsten Nicolai skillfully moves specs of sound around on a blank canvas of silence, creating rhythms that sound like static electricity. His interjecting tonal sequences snap in and snap out, making for quite a quirky and enjoyable number. Great care has been taken with both discs in the order of appearance, track by track, as each experiment seems to fade nicely into the other. The highlight of the 12K cd for me is MARK FELL's "Aftersnd_Birth (In 4 Parts)". More along the lines of his rhythmically-random .h music, MARK FELL takes the listener on a digital trip through the innerworkings of his computer, pausing briefly at times, to allow the listener to keep up with his scattered patterns of change. Fortunately however, it's not all downhill from there, as contributions from MIKAEL STRAVOSTRAND and KOMET provide the head-nod set with a couple of smooth-groovers, as does DAN ABRAMS with his exceptional click-driven ambient piece "Grammar". The 12K cd is over seventy minutes long, but certainly not short on quality.

The second cd, highlighting the L-NE label, borders on the inaudible and unlistenable - some of the tones and sounds divined by artists like ROEL MEELKOP, IMMEDIA, NOSEI SAKATA, and label-owner RICHARD CHARTIER, are so ear-piercing and high-pitched, it just seems unfathomable that anyone could sit through them long enough to get the general idea of each piece. CHARTIER's "010101" is one of the more effective pieces, with a resonating frequency so high, that when you do hear it, it buzzes somewhere in the center of your skull. But as painful as it is to listen to, it successfully pushes the boundaries of silence and sound within the digital context. His label-mate MIKI YUI wields a nice sound that slowly creeps in and out of audibility and BERNHARD GUNTER has an orchestral sounding number that is as enjoyable as it is mysterious. Perhaps the L-NE cd is more focused in its minimal, mono-tone approach, but in conjunction with the 12K cd, it lacks flavor and seems pigeonholed stylistically. As a whole however, this 2cd set is a successfull exploration into a new form of communication through digital sound design, that only accepts sound in relation to no-sound. Its transparent foundation and minimal approach suggests that perhaps this is the clean slate in which the future of music is founded on. http://www.12k.com


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