Various Artists

Em:t 1997

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Although Em:t's popular compilation series began to uncharacteristically parallel popular dance music trends during 1996, leaning more toward the de jour weirdy-beardy beat freak of the trip-hop and armchair jungle set, the label's first compilation for 1997 is a sturdy return to unclassifiable form. Focusing largely on the label's own stable (including Bad Data, Woob, International People's Gang, Gas, and Miasma), the album also features carry-overs Richard Bone and Dallas Simpson, the latter of whose 12-plus minutes of binaurally recorded manipulation of a water pump (again, for some reason, placed square in the middle of the album) is at least moderately more engaging than his previous contribution. Koln's 8m2 Stereo also makes his debut Em:t appearance with the comp-stealing "UNC," and a bewildering stutter of dreamy textures and aberrant atmospheres. Other notable tracks include Gas' "Oxygen," Miasma's evocative clang-fest "Dead Eye," and the always excellent Woob's engulfing "Giant Stroke."