Various Artists

Dancer: The Italic Collection, Vol. 1

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Initiated by Marc Knauer in 1999, Italic has slowly become one of the finest labels in Germany's fertile electronic music community. The Cologne-based label has gradually expanded its stable of artists to just under ten and has retained a solidified overall sound through its first 25 releases -- minimal, warm, melodic. Though isolated tracks veer from dancefloor tech-house to living room electro-pop, each production adheres to those three primary characteristics. Dancer: The Italic Collection, Vol. 1 is the fourth full-length release and the first various-artist compilation from the label; each track was issued previously on vinyl. Most everything here is of a high standard, with fine, detailed production work spread throughout. The one with the highest profile has to be Antonelli Electr.'s "The Vogue," featuring Miss Kittin on vocals. Hardly resembling anything remotely close to the electroclash scene Miss Kittin became the focal point of in 2002, it's a soft dance-pop song with equally light vocals sung instead of spoken. Another vocal track that's just as lovely, Borneo & Sporenburg's "Somewhere in Metropolis," is an unlikely cross between smooth, early-'80s R&B (like Raydio) and mid-'80s sophisti-pop (like Sade). However, if there's anyone who steals the show, it's Stefan Schwander, the man behind Antonelli Electr. and A Rocket in Dub. Between these two aliases, Schwander eats up half the space on the disc and contributes the label's most exciting moments to date. A Rocket in Dub's "Rocket No. 3" is a dubby house number worth marvelling at -- it's no wonder M. Mayer featured it earlier in 2002 on his Immer mix for Kompakt. Incredibly spacious but thriving on minute dubby effects and flickers that bound from left to right with rubber-ball agility, it's just as spellbinding as anything released by Farben or Luomo. Fantastic throughout -- one of the best label-specific comps of 2002.

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