Noise Reduction System: Formative European Electronica 1974-1984
A little over a year after Cherry Red released Close to the Noise Floor: Formative UK Electronica 1975-1984, the label cast their net farther for another engrossing four-disc set of challenging, primarily subterranean sounds made with drum machines and synthesizers. Noise Reduction System: Formative European Electronica 1974-1984 does include contributions from some well-known explorers of progressive electronic music, such as Cluster, Klaus Schulze, Yello, and Front 242, all of whom are present with foundational material. There's also Vangelis, whose "Multi-Track Suggestion" was originally released by a major-label -- and preceded the Academy Award-winning Chariots of Fire by only one year -- yet the snappy track is snug between spasms from cassette-bound micro-label unknowns Ericka Irganon (the juddering "Petite Otite") and Van Kaye + Ignit (the Throbbing Gristle-y "Love You Generator). Most exceptional of all is "Biomutanten" from les Vampyrettes, a one-off "horror with comfort" collaboration between studio wizard Conny Plank and Can's Holger Czukay that resembles a copy of Kevin Ayers' "Song from the Bottom of a Well" dredged from a body of industrial sludge. Otherwise, this is a showcase for obscure cult heroes with phonetically delightful names like Diseño Corbusier, Esplendor Geometrico, and Gagarin Kombinaatti (the latter featuring Mika Vainio, long before he was elevated to demigod status as one-half of Pan Sonic). The approaches, from improvised noise pieces to concise electronic pop songs, are almost as numerous and far-flung as the represented outposts. A significant portion of the tracks appears on compact disc for the first time. Only a few previously resurfaced on legitimate compilations or via reissues from specialist nodes such as Minimal Wave and Dark Entries. Like Close to the Noise Floor, the attached booklet leads with an essay from Dave Henderson, who documented these movements in the U.K. weekly Sounds, and includes information on each track, often provided by the musicians.