VA albums can sometimes be a hit and miss affair. Some tracks great, others not so good, and nearly always some that just aren’t your style, and this can put a bit of a dampener on your enjoyment of them. Not so with Ground-Fault-Interrupt Volume 1. This 8 tracker on the London based Weekend Circuit label features a diverse range of tracks and artists, and there’s not a single thing on it that isn’t top notch. It’s testament to label boss Michael Wells’ selecting that this is the case - the compilation covers a huge amount of ground and yet each track seduces you with its own charms. As always with an album, the music should be experienced by the listener in its entirety, but here are some things that stood out for me:
Opener “Orion Ancestors” by Coldgeist weaves a hypnotic and edgy atmosphere at a good clip, a metallic dripping sound taking centre stage at the higher, contrasting perfectly with a slowly morphing single stab lower down, and both of which are offset by an eerie, drawn out high note. Offset handclaps and a variously ticking and hissing hi-hat measure out the percussion. No breakdowns it seems, just sound building, building, building. This is a heads down, late night techno groove of the highest order.
“Polar” by Antonio De Angelis marries a popping bass line with a maddening cyclic note not that always just escapes comprehension (hence the “maddening” - I found myself always hearing different nuances in it and just about grasping one when another one seemed to surface). The steady beats and chattering hats are accentuated by single bleeps, percussive accents and half heard variations in the melodies. A soft breakdown towards the end of the clip brings out the subtleties in these variations before the track drops back in.
“Knights of the Round” from Dax J steps up the pace to a frantic level and piles on the intensity. Hammering kicks and pattering hi-hats never let up and the drama is brought by percussive samples and a series of gradually building synth notes in the shadowy background. Plenty of changes of emphasis every 8/16 bars keep the track moving at high speed, in a furious race to reach the next phrase. Absolute peaktime devastation.
“Hidden” from Yan Cook features a beautifully realised chiming bell note at it’s heart, and this sound is expertly developed over the course of the track with harmonic notes, and subtle echo and filtering. A solid handclap line follows the regular kicks (with a cheeky little fill) and a slightly muted hat. The highlight of this track for me is the breakdown. the percussive elements gradually fade out, leaving a shining, disorientating reduction of the chiming melody to do its work on your brain - everything spins gloriously downward for a few bars before the groove re-establishes itself. Probably this is the pick of the release to my mind.
So, an absolutely essential compilation, put together by someone who clearly knows what they are doing and the direction they want to go in. A diverse collection with tracks to suit every situation, this better be part of your arsenal if you like playing modern Techno. More importantly, being Volume 1 means we can look forward to more in the future!
- Reviewed by Stuart Ingram for deathtechno.com