Various Artists ‘Gym Records: Muscle Tuff’


Various Artists – Gym Records: Muscle Tuff

Digital – Vinyl – CD 

Gym Records – Released September 2013


If there’s a place where art, house, and techno get together in a strange celebration of warehouses, pop beats, and a sort of universal experimentalism then this week it’s Gym Records’ Muscle Tuff compilation. A meeting minds that offers enough to stroke your chin to, whilst throwing plenty of beat based barrages at those bored of theories, it’s really rather good indeed.

But then we are pretty fond of Brandt Brauer Frick, as many people are, and here the ensemble are in fine form with Two In A Bush, a dubbed-out adventure in suggestion, with the track made up of filtered down noises and b-lines, and refusing to surface for pretty much the entirety, save for a few stray percussive accents and swooshing noises that manage to escape the heads down arrangement. We can only imagine the bodily contortions on a dancefloor.

To compare it with the next number, Reset My Mind, gives a good overview of this collection as a whole. Bodo Elsel’s plodding, highly repetitive vocal outing- consisting of little other than a bumbling organ bass, staccato percussion and the spoken words of its title, looped- is a bit like being in a strange time warp, nodding to both 80s synth based druggy delusions, and Brett Johnson in Temptations & Lies-mode re-read via Krautrock. There’s a lot of going round in circles, although that shouldn’t be taken to be a bad thing.

Digressions aside, the tracks have  a swathe of similarities- edginess, unease, hypnosis- whilst also boasting contrasts- sub-genre, context and suitability within contexts. And this remit can be seen to continue throughout. Take closing bomb Raw & Order by the increasingly impressive Douglas Greed, for example, seemingly thumping in with its tribal beats, slowly a more poised, near-breaks outing emerges, resulting in an atmospheric, swaggering tech affair that can’t help but invoke a wonderful sense of wariness in listeners as a result of us not really knowing what to expect from the track itself. And, like most other things on here, it’s notably different when held up against its track list companions. Innovative and highly intelligent stuff, this is without even bothering to mention the beat-less masterpiece of an opener that is Waste, by Bernard Crochet, wherein you’ll find more rhythm and soul than most live bands could record with actual drums.