A co-release between the Sounds Are Active and Joyful Noise labels, Strata: A Young Person's Guide to Experimental Music lives up to its title pretty well -- even if not a kid's album in a classic sense, there's often a gentle, merry playfulness about this 15-track selection which gives a number of creative groups a chance to show what they can do in a post-indie/IDM/everything else vein. The most well-known would doubtless be Soul-Junk, whose pursuit of any number of musical muses over the years has turned out to be a quiet triumph of dedication and art -- their retelling of "Genesis 15" makes most attempts at indie rap seem like the lazy mess it is; lead man Glen's voice sounds like he's broadcasting from the outer planets. Some selections reflect the continuing influence of groups like Boards of Canada, in particular, where a certain sonic conception of being a kid gets translated into electronics, as on Philippians' "New Inspiration" and Bizzart's "Nivek (outputmessage remix)." But things are hardly limited to that, as everything from grinding feedback freneticism into haunted drone from Melk the G6-49 to Lafcadio's semi-math/rap rock and I Heart Lung's Mogwai-leaning instrumental mini-epic "Moving Through Colour." Track times are all over the map as well -- Deneir's brief tone/beat collage "Charting Oblivion" is under a minute, Receptor Sight's own take on post-rock reach and majesty, "Bagel & Green," is almost a quarter-of-an-hour. The slyest track -- Patagonian's "Cage (Reenactment of More Encores)" -- sounds about like what one would expect.
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett