Limited-edition series are what's cool in the experimental music underground, and Beta-lactam Ring Records' Lactamase 10" series busted all coolness detectors in 2002. Highly collectable and very interesting in its choice of artists and quality of material, it consists of 12 10" records by 13 artists (the first one was a split), with a bonus 13th vinyl for those who bought the whole thing. Limited to 500 numbered copies each, it was a pain to collect and remained available only for a short time. Luckily, the label put together a compilation, the first in its Beta-Beat series. Clocking in at a generous 79 minutes and 33 seconds, this CD presents cuts (in many cases excerpted from longer pieces) from all 12 vinyls, plus a short bonus song by Whitelodge, previously unavailable. The list of performers reads like a who's who of the drone/experimental underground: Tony Conrad, Edward Ka-Spel, Aranos, Noise-maker's Fifes, Troum, Charalambides, Coil, Volcano the Bear, and a handful more. Rick Reed's "Music for the Rothko Chapel," a deep droning piece, is presented in its full glory (21 minutes, the longest track on the set). Aranos' "Sunset Beach's Crumble" and Volcano the Bear's "Millipede for the Little Boy" are both excellent tracks, blending spoken word, faint melodies, textural background noise, and creative editing to suck the listener into strange worlds. Troum's "Derv esh" is the only piece with a prominent rhythm track, a welcome noisy space rocker. If you missed out on the series, just get this comp and pretend it's easier to carry around.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture