Swim Team #1 is a follow-up to Water Communication, the 1997 sampler from Colin Newman and Malka Spigel's Swim label. Like its predecessor, this Swim release compiles eclectic sounds from a global roster of artists working at the interface of atmospheric electronica and rock -- artists who share Newman and Spigel's knack for integrating experimentation and accessibility. Featuring brand-new material and previously released tracks, Swim Team #1 runs the gamut of styles and moods. The brooding tension of Silo's "Templates" and the mesmerizing drone of Steve Gears' "1st Person" cover the more introspective end of the spectrum, whereas Lobe's pulsing "Red Spaces" and the funky groove of Ronnie & Clyde's "Mikki Mauls" have a more pronounced dancefloor orientation. The husband-wife team of Newman and Spigel features prominently throughout this album. Tracks like Spigel's dreamy "Tall Grey Buildings" and Newman's austere, hypnotic "Blank Canvas" encapsulate the pair's trademark fusion of repetitive beats and pared-down guitar and bass patterns. Elsewhere, numbers recorded by the couple as Immersion attest to their more minimal, ambient tendencies -- most notably "Walkabout," which appears here remixed by Mick Harris of Scorn. Swim Team #1 is a family affair, quite literally. Newman and Spigel's 11-year-old son, Ben, makes his debut (as Bumpy) in grand style with "Pizza," a slice of pumping, primitive techno. Of course, kids have been recording pop songs for a long time, but "Pizza" must be the first truly cool, non-novelty solo track by a child. For those unfamiliar with the Swim label, this sampler provides listeners with a generous, bargain-priced opportunity to immerse themselves in its signature hybrid of digital and organic sounds. Above all, Swim Team #1 proves that the words "pop" and "intelligent" are not mutually exclusive terms.
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AllMusic Review by Wilson Neate