The very title of this compilation speaks an international language, where no words or discourse are necessary to convey a wealth of feeling and texture. The music, put together by Bristol-based "concept not a label" pause_2, collects tracks by mostly obscure European and Asian artists who fall under the loose umbrella of "electronic," but push at the various boundaries of the genre.
The collection itself manages to avoid the repetition that drags down many electronic compilations. The RND in the title refers to the randomness of the tracks, something in which pause_2 visionary Tom Pause takes much pride. It may all just be a ploy at modesty; these tracks, though conceivably random, manage to gel together with surprising unity and consistency. Some may even be surprised that this is in fact a compilation, and not the work of one DJ I had to go back and listen twice before I realized the album wasn't one continuous mix. Some tracks certainly stand out more than others, although each one merits careful listening and it is this careful listening that unearths the tiny gems and moments of brilliance buried throughout the album.
The track "moth" by wauvenfold (on the Wichita label) is a tiny skittering thing that could fly right by you if you don't pay attention. With its soft distortions that ebb and flow, it plays out with an astonishing sense of immensity. There are whispers and secret laughter beneath the tracks, as one might hear if passing quickly through a room into a more comfortable darkness.
In stark contrast stands the untitled zan lyons track, which might just be the new soundtrack to the apocalypse. It's been done, of course, but zan lyons does it better, with a majestic and somewhat eerie blend of ambient cellos and what sounds like a flock of hell-bent vultures looking for some prey. It's hard to detect any underlying irony, but perhaps that's not the point.
Noteworthy too is "la bomb is all bad" by bristol's own "king of bedroom recordings" theboylucas (Output Recordings). It's the most acoustic and analog track of the compilation, with plenty of looped guitars, lazy basses and crackly-vinyl pianos, punctuated occasionally with some unintelligible vocals. It builds and brings an appreciated feeling of warmth to the collection, comparable to sitting on a dusty second-hand couch in your friend's sunny living room.
"acogui" by mati:k and "a5501" by novel23 hark back to an older style of dark synth-pop, while "byeway(clan)" by metamatics and "turt" by pause_2's own eu bring to mind the colorful electronic shufflings of certain Warp or Skam groups. And through the randomness and apparent cohesion of it all, new moments and sounds are revealed with every listen, giving this compilation an extended residency in my CD player.
The compilation is currently available through the pause_2 Web site and is so reasonably priced that they might give other labels a few things to reconsider. Not the least being their conception of good music.