Various Artists - 'Boats'
The cream of downtempo electronica sample an Indian children's choir
The kids’ voices, stripped of context and mutated electronically into whatever wash of sound each artist chose, rapidly became “this amazing synthesizer”, as Bear In Heaven dubbed it, and the overall effect has the same warmth as Panda Bear’s ‘Person Pitch’ album. The sound of bright, clear young voices, drowning in reverb and singing in an indecipherable foreign language is perfectly suited to the key collaborators, many of whom came out of the same reverb-obsessed wave of the late-noughties.
Dan Deacon uses his slot to dispense with instruments altogether and just tweak a dazzling cascade of layered voices as far as he can (very far). Rustie piles extra layers of euphoria on top of his usual Space Invaders trickery. Gang Gang Dance find themselves utterly at home forging hypnotic 2mph world music, but even a past master of this sort of thing like El Guincho can’t quite find the hook he needs to save ‘Botes’ from its own repetitiveness. Deerhoof take a low-slung approach, and it works. Of the lesser-knowns, Max Tundra’s tight ‘You, The Living’ manages to swerve some of the clichés by picking up the pace and carving the voices into micro-dots of sample, while Victoria Bergsman’s ‘In Love This Time’ under her Taken By Trees achieves a sad sweetness by bringing her own voice to the fore. There’s plenty that’s great, a fair bit of the indifferent and not much bad. But even across its marathon-length of 29 tracks, ‘BOATS’ feels pretty damn life-affirming.
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