Sunday, 25 April 2021

VA ‎– We Are Reasonable People (1998)

Genre: Electronic
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Warp Records, Source

01.   AFX / Squarepusher - Freeman, Hardy & Willis Acid
02.   Boards Of Canada - Orange Romeda
03.   Broadcast - Hammer Without A Master
04.   Plaid - Ilasas
05.   Autechre - Stop Look Listen
06.   Nightmares On Wax - Fishtail Parker
07.   Jimi Tenor - Wear My Bikini
08.   Plone - Plaything
09.   Red Snapper - 4 Dead Monks (Original Demo)
10.   Mira Calix - Umchunga Locks
11.   Two Lone Swordsmen - Circulation
12.   Mark Bell - A Salute To Those People Who Say Fuck You

Artwork –
Mastered By – F.A.

We Are Reasonable People is a select handful of the European upper crust furnishing electronic rarities to the label that made them famous. Warp Records has the cream of the crop to choose from, even if some of that cream has clotted from oversight. All of these selections are previously unreleased, and considering the wide variety of styles on the disc, there truly is "something for everyone." "Freeman Hardy & Willis Acid" is such a memorable high point, it's a wonder this track wasn't saved for the finale. Two of the most accomplished trendsetters, Tom Jenkinson and Richard D. James, combine their abilities for the first time as Squarepusher and AFX, respectively. Pools of mercurial ambience float above rocky landscapes of blistering rhythm tracks, sputtering toward an acid refrain and such spatial disorientation that it pulls the chair right out from under you. An act this tough to follow is rightfully handed to Boards of Canada, whose "Orange Rhomeda" is a magical pinwheel of found digital beats and naïve bytes, an early taste of a duo who would be Warp's next big thing. From here the terrain gets uneven. Although high points are aplenty, listeners might be checking the clock once or twice along the way. Broadcast's "Hammer Without a Master" drones along in burnt electro-waltz/rock waves, and Plaid contributes a sound sculpture that pulses with cascading icicles of synth and a syncopated, chugging drumbox. The indifference intensifies as glitch music superstars Autechre strain to deliver even a shred of the human element for "Stop Look Listen," typing out trigonometric beats and a stray melody. Next, an upbeat Nightmares on Wax grooves conservatively with "Fishtail Parker," a mid-budget tapestry of keyboard funk. From here, the ball passes nicely to Jimi Tenor, who digs into his zoot suit jacket pocket for a slick set of licks on "Wear My Bikini," a jazzy arrangement of downtown-cruising horn/synth riffs and head-bobbing beats. Another abrupt shift in mood comes from Plone's "Plaything" -- disturbingly innocent. It's like easy listening for stuffed animals, featuring bubblegum keyboard leads and a swishing, carefree beatbox. Following this, Red Snapper (black belt of the live groove) unearths the moody "4 Dead Monks (Original Demo)." The upright bass snarls and paces back and forth in a cage, the snares slither and pop, and a lone trumpet adds a fog of crime noir. Two Lone Swordsmen deliver "Circulation," which gurgles menacingly along the floorboards like restless plasma with a curfew. Weatherall and Tenniswood keep a half-dozen elements under close surveillance, letting them breathe slightly before locking them up again. Rounding out the CD, Mira Calix and Mark Bell both deliver pounding, up-tempo industrial showcases; the latter closes out the disc with extra crunch and a keyboard lead that shifts mathematically to the left with each repetition. The energy almost compensates for its structural simplicity. With such a plush assembly of music at its fingertips, Warp pats itself on the back with this release. Rightfully so, for not only staying afloat in the ever-expanding sea of electronic music, but for riding the crest of it.
Glenn Swan / AllMusic