Various Artists – [2008] 月餅

Exceptionally varied compilation of experimental to conventional electronica from Phonocake.

It’s hard to talk about a release who’s name you cannot pronounce, and more genres included than I possibly could fit into this tiny review. Ranging from art pieces that you would expect screening in an avant-garde museum opening. The comparison is fitting, as this whole release is a nice marker for the state of Creative Commons music in the late 2000’s on both ends of the creative spectrum.

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Various Artists – [2008] Breathe 02

Essential listen for downtempo enthusiasts. Different artists cover wide range of styles.

Breathe Compilations is a (former?) Mexican netlabel that – surprise – specialises in releasing compilations, active between 2008 and 2018 (as of 2020). Although the label’s back catalogue (92 releases) has not seen an addition for almost 2 years, its Soundcloud profile buzzes with activity. So I don’t fully call off any hope for a comeback. But in the meantime, I could as well review one of its earliest releases:

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Various Artists – [2007] The Silent Ballet, Volume III: Unfolding a Broken Heart

The Silent Ballet is a past review blog and compilation project. Since 2012, activity has ceased and its founder has since moved on to write for Fragile ǀǀ ¿Extinct?, which now posts occasional reviews and an annual list of 100 tracks/50 albums (very worth checking out).

This entry in the compilation series (16 in total) marks the point when its scope widened from a pure post-rock to a more general experimental musical direction. As with all Ballets, production quality is high to stellar.

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Various Artists – [2011] BACKUP11

Exceptional chiptune compilation for Platine Festival in Cologne. Great contributions from well-known artists.

If you want to saviour a varied selection of different classic 8-bit as well as modern interpretations of the genre, look no further. From classic pure console sounds to blends of chip and studio music you can feel served. I can fully recommend each of the 10 tracks, yet will only showcase you the habitual two here:

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Various Artists – [2009] Footprints

Massive trip hop infused electronic compilation. 30 tracks from dance to experimental.

Netlabel Bump Foot is special in that it consists two separately numbered release channels. One is labelled bump, dealing with house and techno, foot the other for IDM, trip hop, chiptune, ambient… everything else electronic, basically. In 2009, both series hit their 100th anniversary. This one is filled with two hours of high quality trip hop, pop-y and funky electronica from the golden netlabel era.

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Planet Boelex – [2013] Exist

Short like an EP, full like a compilation. Uplifting ambient electronica at its best.

A short album, but varied like a compilation: 6 tracks, 3 of which are compilations, and 2 remixes make this a small festival in all things ambient electronica.
It marked the end of a three year hiatus. And what a bombastic, I mean, relaxing, way to do that. If you have not yet Planet Boelex on your mental shortlist for acoustic bubble baths, here is your ticket:

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Various Artists – [2006] The Silent Ballet, Volume II: Acquiescence and Oblivion

Essential post rock compilation series. Spans a huge range from almost classical to jazzy territory.

This compilation more than most rewards front-to-back listening. Much care has gone in arranging the tracks “in order”. Thus it hurts me more than usual to only rip two tracks out of context. So if you can find pleasure in those, the 9 other track in between warrant their long duration (over 6 minutes on average).

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Various Artists – [2019] Fusion Compilation 12

Versatile trip hop compilation. From ethnic ambient to catchy pop rock, all genres may apply.

Over 5 years after my review on Fusion Compilation 8, I return to this netlabel with their most recent instalment to the series. Comparing both compilations back to back highlights how professional the free music scene has become during the course of the decade: all ten tracks have major-label grade production, crisp recording and tight arrangements. Which tracks am I gonna highlight?

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Various Artists – [2007] Classic Accidents

Clicky, surprisingly upbeat deep house from Mainz, with one or two experimental slippages.

This vintage collection of rather minimal danceable tracks does not compromise on its concept to please. Dry clicks and noisy effects are sprinkled liberally across the whole 12-track ensemble. But that playfulness in texture is well balanced by minimal harmonies and repetitive (not to say catchy) song structures.

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Various Artists – [2007] Share It Spread It Love It

Antique pop compilation. From the rather early days of high quality free music publishing.

At the time, trying to publish music outside the traditional channels (music labels) was still quite out of the ordinary. No Bandcamp, no Jamendo, no Free Music Archive. All those only came to life during the last 10 years. If you this release’s style, have a listen to the curators other compilations, mixes and podcasts, all neatly stored for our future pleasure. But now, lend my two picks an ear (or two):

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