Various Artists: Computer Incarnations for World Peace II

[25 November 2008]

By Timothy Gabriele

Curated by Running Back Records’ Gerd Janson, the second installation of Sonar Kollektiv’s Computer Incarnations For World Peace series proclaims itself on its cover to be “Topical Disco + New Age Boogie”. Fret not though, the music contained within is far from topical and only new age enough to elicit the faintest stank of patchouli off the twinkling cosmic disco contained within. Instead, it’s music that, like the latest craze for all things Balearic (the steel drummed Club Med house cut “To and Fro” by Ray Mang might be the only track to qualify under that tag), is informed by the cornball soft rock pop/ eighties porn synth cheese that musical history has long tried to deny, but recent fetishists have tried to reclaim. 

For the twelve artists on this compilation, the trick is to balance this only-semi-ironic coating of frommage-laced bacchanalia with transportive grooves and celestial machinal hums. Project Sandro’s “Blazer” passes muster with an entrancing electro-tom tom pattern and a warm pad coo that loop without surrender for nine minutes as variations whirl above and around the melody. Woolfy’s ‘Odyssey” is more traditional space age bachelor pad fare, though one that is admittedly brimming with sexual allure and intensely funky basslines. Frontiera lifts chords out of the James Bond theme music and somehow turns them into a delectable paranoid synthpop night owl strut on “Walking in the Rain”.

Not everybody on the compilation comes out on top though. The normally stellar Prins Thomas, who teams with Norwegian DJ Todd Terje, delivers a pretty tepid muzak track that sounds a bit like a a very Tomita Christmas album guest-keyboarded by The Woman in Red era Stevie Wonder. Rollmottle’s “Take a Break (Maurice Fulton mix)” starts out with a promisingly flanged subterranean Liquid Liquid bassline. Though they occasionally do some fun and unexpected things over that bass, there’s far too many smooth jazz pianos abound for the track to self-actualize. Computer Incarnations For World Peace II errs on the better side of average, but probably could have been even better had Janson not made his listeners feel so damned guilty about the album’s pleasures.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/65894-various-artists-computer-incarnations-for-world-peace-ii/