Various Artists – On Corrosion

Full marks to The Helen Scarsdale Agency for its decision to celebrate release #50 with a 10-cassette package housed in this handsome wooden box. We’ve seen a number of labels celebrate landmark releases with compilations, collaborations and so forth. This one outdoes them all.

The package features work by Alice Kemp, Fossil Aerosol Mining Project, Francisco Meirino, G*Park, Himukalt, Kleistwahr, Neutral, Pinkcourtesyphone, Relay For Death and She Spread Sorrow. Their work reflects everything we love about cassette culture – its DIY aesthetic, occasional lo-fi hiccups and moments of sheer beauty.

Not surprisingly given the volume of material here, the collection’s six-hour-and-twenty-minute runtime runs the gamut of today’s avant garde. For the uninitiated, that label tends to generate a rather specific set of expectations. On Corrosion delivers ample evidence that the world of experimental music is richly individualistic.

Kemp’s contributions are ethereal and beautifully detailed. Fossil Aerosol Mining Project, who I have featured in this space previously, has delivered another thickly brooding work. We get two long compellingly abrasive pieces from Meirino.

G*Park also has two lengthy industrial-tinged tracks. Himukalt’s work is ear-piercing. In a similar vein, Kleistwahr will set your teeth on edge. Neutral’s two pieces are in no way neutral.

Pinkcourtesyphone and Relay For Death both deliver advanced ambient soundscapes. Last but not least, She Spread Sorrow is the closest thing here to straightforward alt-electronic pop. And to be clear, it is neither straightforward nor pop.

All of this has been mastered by the highly respected James Plotkin.

The Helen Scarsdale Agency launched in 2003. Its focus is “post-industrial research, recombinant noise, surrealist demolition, existential vacancy and then some” according to the label’s website. The imprint’s packaging is designed and hand-crafted by label founder Jim Haynes.

Because of the high-end nature of their packaging, Scarsdale recordings are produced in small physical runs. I normally hold off on reviews until closer to the release date. I’m giving you a head start on this one (due Oct. 25) so that you don’t miss out on your order.

Kevin Press

The Moderns, vols. 1 and 2, by Kevin Press are available exclusively from Amazon.

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