Various Artists

Cottage Industrial, Vol. 1

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The title of this compilation is a program by and of itself: D.I.Y. noise-based experimental music. The Humbug label has done an excellent job of selecting a varied international roster. The quality of the contributions is high almost across the board, with only a couple of tracks failing to deliver something original or daring. The album's title is a bit misleading: this is not industrial music in the '80s sense of the word, there's absolutely nothing retro about it. If these artists have been inspired by the mythical days of the international cassette underground (you know, back when Merzbow was barely more than a circulating rumor), they take the D.I.Y. approach to new extremes, combining laptop art with the most simple artistic gestures possible. The set begins with a noise assault courtesy of Jan Van Den Dobbelsteen -- a harsh entry to an album that also offers its share of quieter passages. The English group Earth Hum contributes one of the highlights, a "Post Industrial Dream" combining a recitation and a diesel engine, among other sounds. Other standouts include some amplified objects by Nicolas Malevitsis (at least that's what it sounds like); a hilarious piece by Crank Sturgeon where the artist attempts to play back a recording by Crank Sturgeon but keeps messing up, recording himself in the process; a delicate soundscape by Ilios, and a surprising vocal piece by Id M Theft Able that sounds like Jaap Blonk recorded performing on a street corner and remixed. And the last two tracks by Andreas Meland and Jan-M. Iversen propose gentle yet unusual soundscapes. Truly admirable and highly recommended.

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