V/A – Signs Sampler

This compilation, which came out about a half a year ago, intends to give an overview of the current EBM/electronic scene in (mainly) Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Ten projects from those countries are present, all unknown to me before. Two renowned guests were flown in to make the cd even more interesting: Flint Glass and Polygon. The nice-looking digipack with short bio’s in the booklet is released in an edition of 550 copies.

The listener is treated to over an hour of attractive electronic music. Don’t expect straightforward dance anthems or trancy future pop. Most acts play an atmospheric type of midtempo electro with in general a dark, melancholic sound. A good example is the first track by Anima Mundi, a one-man project by Ergo, who is also active on this cd as Vortex and Gaping Chasm. This stand-out track intelligently combines Gregorian choirs with multi-layered melodic synth sounds and catchy rhythms. I’m a bit reminded of early 90’s Zoth Ommog act Abscess. Samhain has a darker, brooding sound, with distorted whispered vocals, in line with slower Leaether Strip material.

Flint Glass has contributed a quite inaccessible track, with filmic sounds and hectic beats, that never seems to really go anywhere. Disharmony continues in a loud, beat-driven style, that after a while turns into a complex and dark EBM piece which strongly reminds me of Mentallo & the Fixer. Perhaps the most accessible piece is the instrumental ‘Illusions’ by Vortex, with a danceable technoid framework and a pseudo-ethnic Delerium/Enigma touch. Terminal State follows with an aggressive EBM piece, with typical harsh distorted vocals, though with a bit of an unclear melody.

Mindmap shows a new side to this cd, with a more etheral, dreamy style with female vocals. Gaping Chasm offers more old-fashioned EBM, with somewhat of an American ‘rivethead’ crossover style. Oxyd combines IDM beats with a ritual atmosphere, while Depressive Disorder mixes dark vocals with Gregorian chants and melancholic synths.

Tension operates somewhere between IDM and ambient, but doesn’t really hold my attention. The closing soundscape by Polygon is quite mysterious and chilling, of the usual high standard as I’ve come to expect from this German project. A nice ending to an interesting compilation with some promising new names to discover.

mp3 previews of the album.

artist: V/A
label: Aliens Production
details: 12 tracks, 2005. lim. 550 copies