Various Artists

Warenkorb #4

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Despite the tossed-off nature of the artwork and the nearly illegible track listing, the fourth volume of Ware's Warenkorb series holds its own -- but doesn't exactly stick out -- when put up against the remainder of the gaggle of Germanic house compilations released in 2002. Started in 1997 by producer Mathias Schaffhauser, Ware has left its own mark in the field of dance music, releasing strong 12" platters from the likes of Decomposed Subsonic, Schaffhauser, Caulfield, Markus Guentner, Misc., Coloma, and Ivan Schmidt. Like a lot of other German dance labels that have sprouted up since the late '90s, Ware's output has, as a whole, released material that can fittingly be described as either house or techno, with no deliberate attempts at being one or the other. Taut, simplistic 4/4 grooves, all manner of bizarre effects, washes of synths, and occasional dub influences are the rule, save for the odd diversion. This fourth installment of Ware's state-of-the-union series plays out both as an update and a listenable mix at the same time; the tracks are often blended in a very subtle manner or are bridged through creative use of sound segments and samples. This can be a little irritating for those who want the tracks in whole; two of the disc's best moments, Misc.'s "Drive In" and Decomposed Subsonic's "Fake," are mixed creatively but share several seconds between them. One thing this mix-not-mix has going for it is a lack of sameyness -- where spectacular mix compilations like Force Tracks' Hypercity and Perlon's Superlongevity are prone to such an accusation, this disc eludes any possibility of that coming into play. For instance, Velma's "Galerie" is a fantastic closeout and an unexpected curve ball, an electro-folk song with relaxed, Nico-style vocals, plaintive guitars, subtle drum brushes, and a solemn drone throughout. Not exemplary by any stroke, but necessary for die-hard fans of the form.

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