An album compiling songs regularly featured on the Bluetown Electronica radio show, admittedly I approached this compilation with some vague guardedness, being usually a touch wary of Electronica in general and of over-synthesization in music. A nice person might call me a “purist”; a not-so-nice person might call me a “arrogant prick”. For the record, I prefer arrogant prick. So I wasn’t necessarily expecting to find much in this compilation to like and was therefore pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable some of the material on offer here genuinely is.
Not all of it. Some of it does drift right by without making an impression, but that might be partly due to having only a passing familiarity with the genre and sub-genres beyond New Order and Trent Reznor, whereas someone better-versed in the Industrial, Darkwave or broader Electronica scenes may find even more to enjoy here than I do. But there’s a good degree of variety here, ranging from the more poppy, chart-friendly stuff (Shatoo’s ‘Floodlights’) to more niche-sounding tracks and a fair bit in-between, traversing a diverse soundscape.
Factory Acts’ ‘Senseless’ is one of the coolest tracks, reminding me a little of Republica, among other things. Tenek’s ‘Where’s the Time’ simultaneously makes me want to add “proper drums” to it (says Arrogant Prick) and also watch some old Red Dwarf episodes; good sound though, the kind of song that’ll stick in your head against your will – I think the word for that is insidious.
Naked Lunch’s ‘La Femme’ is effortlessly cool, has a naturally New Order feel to it unsurprisingly. Pinklogik’s ‘Bide Your Time’ has a more meloncollie feel (yes, that’s how I’m spelling ‘melloncollie’ – it’s the Smashing Pumpkins way or nothing, dammit!), brooding, like an emotional interlude in a horror film. Synthie dB Shock’s ‘Factory Reset’ is genuinely a great pop song, reminiscent of bits of nineties’ European indie, but very cool-sounding in itself. It also made me… (gasp) feel something. Which is very inconsiderate.
Rossetti’s Compass’ ‘My Beloved’ is another really terrific-sounding pop song; somewhat displaced from the eighties and somewhat evoking the ghost of Ian Curtis, but all the better for it. It really is a properly good bit of music though. The Flood’s ‘The Right Time’ feels also very eighties, complete with Human League style vocals.
Das Fluff’s ‘Life Is Sweet’ is very Garbage-reminiscent, dripping with attitude and a sexy, kick-arse (yes, that’s how I’m spelling it – kick-arse; we are not Americans!) chorus. While Cronos Titan’s ‘Crash The Scriptures’ is cool in a ‘we have something to say’ kind of trip, the overly techno track flavored with Gregorian-hymn-style vocals and having a somewhat apocalyptic undercurrent.
Though having a vaguely Britpop air to it, Johnny Normal’s ‘Save Me’ is the closest to a straighter-rock sound here, with the most discernible guitars; and it sounds pretty good. EMT’s ‘Regret’ has a wickedly catchy chorus with an infectious soundtrack that works particularly well for being more refrained than a lot of synth-based stuff tends to be sometimes.
In general then, Bluetown Electronica (Is It Time Yet?) is an eclectic mix with a winning ratio of interesting or standout pickings from its 25-track offering. Whether genre-devotees will be impressed is beyond this reviewer’s purview; but actually a compilation like this could serve as a suitable entry-point for the as-yet uninitiated.