Split Series 1-8

For a couple of years now, [B]FatCat[/B]'s series of split 12"s ... has built up into a virtual academy of the abstract....

For a couple of years now, FatCat's series of split 12"s - two largely unknown artists at a time, fantastically austere sleeves - has built up into a virtual academy of the abstract. It's here that the shock troops of post-everything music gather; a home for the bright and the brutal, for those who pursue the art of noise and, cleverly, the noise of art, too.

As an introduction to the kind of truly radical music being made today, this 11-track compilation of the series' highlights is perfect - wildly inventive, gleefully noisy, occasionally pretty terrifying. It starts magnificently, with a massive thunderstorm of static, an orchestra of dirty needles ploughing a deeper and deeper rut into vinyl. This is Janek Schaefer's 'Foreground Blink', musique concrete made by a man with far too many cartridges on his turntable, and a secret penchant for melody that sneaks out against his better instincts.

Too soft? Try mighty avant-pranksters V/VM and Speedranch^Jansky Noise, whose cut'n'paste atrocity exhibitions make much of Digital Hardcore's oeuvre look sappy. Or the prolific and damn-near unlistenable Merzbow, whose 15-minute 'Ab Hunter' was too sonically fierce for vinyl. Medals for those who make it all the way through, for sure.

In the face of this, the surgically-enhanced techno of 'Viral' by Ad Vanz v Gescom is pretty straight. But in these glitches, these meticulously processed beats, there's an unavoidable vision to make something new, a sense of adventure that puts most of their musical contemporaries to shame. Really, the way out of a sheltered life starts here.

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