Various Artists : Blech II – Blechsdottir

Originally released 23rd September 1996.  Original review published 30th November 2008.

The premise? Simple. Take one beyond cool ambient/electronica/whatever label at the peak of it’s creative powers, add to it the best of their peerless roster of knob twiddling savants and then mix spotlessly some of their best unreleased work. The result, Blechsdottir, isn’t one of the best examples of the genre (As a reference, check out Coldcut’s landmark “Journey’s by DJ”) it’s the best, benchmarking the avant garde end of the DJ mix market for years to come.

It’s boosted of course by the quality of it’s source material, created by the cognoscenti of “Intelligent” electronic music – Autechre, Richard D. James (Aka Polygon Window on this occasion) LFO, The Black Dog – but it’s augmented by a dazzling array of loops, samples and cut-ups from sources as diverse as Apocalypse Now to Martin Luther King. The listener is dragged, on disorienting electro psychedelic journey although any mixing mischief is playful.

You’d be mistaken in thinking that it’s all icicles melting in a Norwegian fjord type “Ambience” too – in fact, some of the best work is groovy melodic nu-funk from The Elektroids and the soulful tech-hop of the criminally underrated Nightmares on Wax, whilst sometime Mu-Ziq progenitor Mike Paradinas features as the unlikely named Jake Slazenger.

There’s even room for a jazz inflected Jimi Tenor piece, before it’s over seemingly before it began. Blechsdottir was a highly thought provoking take on the edges of contemporary dance music of the time, and remains fresh and crunchy sounding now. Sadly for Warp, they were never this good again.

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