Various Artists

Normoton Gold

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Drawing from the Normoton label's back catalog for its 25th overall release, Normoton Gold is an enjoyable enough showcase of the somewhat schizophrenic (but proud to be so) German company. That said, the overall focus of Normoton tends toward the electronic, so it's little surprise that Strassman's "Puzzlen" starts things off with its semi-microhouse kick, the crackling of extra percussion and the abbreviated basslines making for a song that's almost all tension and no release but still gets away with it. Other standouts in that vein include Andreas Heiszenberger's "Love Hits" and the Barebackshow's done-for-the-comp contribution, "Beatbeatz," with its brisk, compressed crunch sounding like a perfect fusion of dance styles from at least three different decades all in one place. (The other wholly new track, Traffic Jam's "Metronome," is well named thanks to its direct industrial/house punch, but the moody vocals add a further melancholic tinge.) Some songs are enjoyable for the sheer novelty more than anything else -- Electroserge's "Electrocaterpillar" is such a pitch-perfect re-creation of, indeed, electro that about the only thing missing is a video featuring the cast of Body Rock. Meanwhile, the swirling melodies of "Gender Bender" by MCL sound like something Cirque du Soleil might use as a backing track for a midair ballet or something similar -- not a criticism, merely an observation -- while Landesvatter's "S+F" sounds like a track from the Harold Budd/Cocteau Twins collaboration album given a low-key remix, no bad thing at all. Also, any label that signs an act called Smutny has to have its heart in the right place.

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