Various Artists

Variable Access

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Variable Access collects the most stunning and challenging of French label Active Suspension's electronica roster. My Jazzy Child starts the album off with "Michelle Fink," a gentle, melodic laptop piece that crosses Icelandic electronic dream poppers Múm with the lighter side of Mego recording artists. Shinsei offers up a loping six minutes of musique concrète collaged from noises, drones, and gurgles. Aerosol's track, "Be Reasonable," should be accessible across the board, with ambient sounds and interesting beats. But the most frequently represented style on Variable Access is glitch pop -- whether in the stuttering, bumping, static-sounding beats of Hypo's "Paris-Roubaix" (probably named for the cobblestone cycling race), the video game loops and ticks of o.lamm's "Harmony Twichell," or the underworld, clockwork grooves of Melodium. Variable Access is a beautiful introduction to the subgenres that drive experimental electronica music, and it establishes Active Suspension as a force to be reckoned with.

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