Various Artists

Variations, Vol. 3: A London Compilation

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The third volume in Clive Graham's overview of unique and out-of-the-way sonic conceptions in late 20th century England, once again delivering a generally fascinating and diverse survey. Syngen Brown opens the disc with a delightful trio of pieces made up of roiling, messy electronic washes. There is more music that refers, however obliquely, to rock and folk forms on this disc than on prior offerings in the series, including Voltage's "Live at the Klinker" (in a punk/noise sort of way) and Andrew King's heartfelt rendition of the 19th century ballad "Ninety and Nine." But experimental electronics lie at the heart of this collection, and there are some fine examples herein. Phil Durrant's "Depth" is a furious, boiling work, abstract but remarkably visceral and corporeally present. Graham's own "Time Spool" unwinds in a looser, hymn-like fashion, deftly sidestepping any unnecessary cuteness and revealing a detailed, unusual world full of delicately sheared slabs of soundstuff. If the occasional piece doesn't quite cohere (like the live Wits performance), or if some, such as Bob Cobbing's madcap vocalizations, are a bit of an acquired taste, there is still much here to whet the appetite of anyone interested in the goings-on off the beaten track in England.

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