Various Artists

Modulation & Transformation, Vol. 4

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The fourth collection in the Modulation & Transformation series testifies precisely how powerfully Mille Plateaux has positioned themselves within the growing world of electronic music. While many labels cash in on the genre's growing popularity, this Frankfurt-based label refuses to compromise its brand of challenging electronic music, instead heading increasingly further towards unparalleled artistic heights. The 36 songs on this wide-ranging collection capture many of Europe's foremost avant-garde electronic music composers such as Gas, Thomas Heckman, and Thomas Brinkman in addition to a few non-Europeans such as Paul Miller. The result captures a multitude of previously unconceivable ideas, directions that past musicians had never dreamt of. For example, when Wolfgang Voigt concludes the first album as Freiland on "Blau," the result feels near apocalyptic with its painfully distorted, shotgun blast-sounding bass beats pounding underneath a series of primitive synth melodies. To the average listener, this song is sheer noise, nothing but a banging cacophony. Yet to the more curious listener, a mysterious allure lies beneath this catastrophic demolition; only those in search of fresh ideas and sounds can find the inner beauty of songs such as this. Keep in mind that this is just one example of many. Sure, there are times when even the most open-minded listeners will scratch their head, pondering a particular song's value. Yet for the most part, these brave composers should be trusted by the listener. One may find little melody or rhythm here, but ambition is plentiful.

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