Various Artists: Manoeuvres 1

[2 August 2007]

By Courtney Tenz

Compiling a series of electronic tracks based solely on geography is a risky venture, especially when said locale is the relatively nameless Vancouver. Manoeuvres 1, put out by So Called Recordings to bring the city’s best musicians above ground, tries to get around this dilemma by including twelve of the city’s best producers of electronica, no matter that each musician maintains a different oeuvre. The idea seems to have worked well; in Canada, the compilation hit the iTunes top ten in the first week it was available.

Still, there’s something to be said for threading these disparate works with something more than the influences of hometown. Because as exceptional as each track might be, and as much as each of these songs might reflect the non-homogeny of the city, the switch from Baha Brinkman’s silly homage rap to his city (one that speaks too often of Vancouver’s love of marijuana and suggests “that’s how the west coast rides / We got raves in the woods with some techno vibes”), to the lounge sound of Phontaine to the Drastic Dragonfly’s acid experiments feels too abrupt. By the time Sonicjoy’s beautiful closing meditation arrives bearing the mantra “Om Nama Shivaya”, it feels as if every style of electronica has been gone through… and though I never thought I’d say this, diversity here has been overdone.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/various-manoeuvres-1/