Various Artists | X + Y = XY

Alku | CDR

Periodically a surprise package arrives from Barcelona based Alku recordings. Invariably a non-descript brown envelope, its contents are anything but faceless, more often than not humorous parcels of fun. Today's package features a faceless yellow cardboard sleeve containing an unmarked CDR with 10 two minute tracks and an A2 poster with giant-sized text not dissimilar to that found at Alku's gloriously minimal website (

A self-confessed 'home label' - only releasing works on CDR - Alku have nonetheless amassed a wealth of talent including, among others, Pita, Merzbow, Wobbly, Beige and 2002 Prix Ars Electronica Winner Yasunao Tone, whose 'Man'Yo Wounded 2001' was this year's Digital Musics Category Winner. Perhaps Alku's most intriguing releases are those where they invite musicians to contribute to a compilation that, more often than not, involves conforming or reacting to a tightly defined brief.

I can't be sure who made what, but I'm happy it's that way. Like The Wire's Invisible Jukebox, half the fun's in the listening and guessing. At a rough guess I'd say: Track 1, perhaps Wobbly or Beige? Track 2, almost certainly the distinctively virulent strains of Evol, (I love those digital insect whines...). Track 3, comfortably distended melody, but who is it? Track 4, the unmistakable sound of the Macintosh' built-in text-to-speech software; as for the artist, I haven't a clue…

Track 5, pinprick audio - delicate fragments. Track 6, distorted melodies sitting on top of decentred rhythms, again Wobbly or Beige? Track 7, sheets of carefully modulated noise, very nice, but I'm at a loss to identify the culprit(s). Track 8, minimal scribbles again (?). Track 9, Pimmon perhaps (I recognise some samples here). Track 10, scroll-wheel shuddering pitch modulated pop.

The game could go on for hours (in twenty minute blocks), suffice to say it's a lot of fun and I can highly recommend it. Now, if I could just investigate a little further and find out who did what…


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