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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Various Artists - Saturation Bombing Boxset

Artist: Various Artists
Album: Saturation Bombing Boxset
Year: 2008
Label: Bugs Crawling Out Of People
Genre: Rhythmic Noise, Industrial, Ambient, IDM
Website: click

So back in 2003 and 2004 there was this thing called the Toronto Industrial Kollective and it held a few of these festivals called Saturation Bombing. These festivals showcased some of the best (if not the best) artists in the industrial noise scene. Directly after the festivals TiK released CDs featuring artists from Saturation Bombing 1 & 2 in very limited quantities. Now in 2008 Bugs Crawling Out Of People has re-released both CDs in a hand-painted wooden boxset.

Packaging: 9/10
Saturation Bombing comes in a nice hand-numbered wooden box with a bug painted on it. Inside you get both CDs, bumper sticker-size stickers that say Saturation Bombing and some army men & toy planes. Since the CDs are both V/A, it is not surprising that the artwork consists of 1-2 page booklets with just the bands information on it. But it’s not bad artwork and it looks professional enough. The box itself as well as the CDs are of very high quality.

Composition: 9.5/10
The first cd is basically just Displacer, Liar’s Rosebush, Prospero, S:Cage and L’ombre remixing each other. Then there are tracks from Antigen Shift, Iszoloscope and Skeeter thrown on for good measure. Anyway every track on here is awesome. Oddly a bunch of them use old synths that sound a bit dated...but that antique sound is a bit compelling in itself, perhaps for sheer nostalgic value. But the tracks hold strong and pass the test of time. Even though this was originally released in 2003, it is still pretty relevant in 2008. It’s a good look back on what the noise scene sounded like five years ago. The Liar’s Rosebush tracks are especially kooky and will confuse and baffle the mind of nearly any listener.

artists: this morn' omina, re_agent, pneumatic detach, mono no aware, larvae, prospero, horchata, c2, iszoloscope, ah cama-sotz, empusae, liar's rosebush/scrap.edx, aidan baker
The second CD is a little more diverse. This time we have 13 different artists and only 1 remix (by another artist). Those who are familiar with the genre will already know that most of these artists can do no wrong, and they don’t disappoint here. All the bands I know and love provide some of their strongest tracks and I was surprised to find that the tracks from the bands I am significantly less familiar with are of exceptional quality as well. I’m not sure what else to say because honestly every track on this thing kicks ass. A perfect epic start with This Morn' Omina's 9 minute 'Uraeus', tons of great rhythmic shit in the middle, an excellent ambient noise combo from liar's rosebush + scrap.edx and a beautiful pure ambient closer from aidan baker.

Production: 9/10
For the most part the production is excellent. Sometimes it can be difficult when mastering a V/A album, because you have to get a bunch of different tracks by bands who have different styles of producing to all have similar volume and weight. I feel that this was pulled off well on this CD. Every track is not only produced well, but sounds like it was hit with some top notch mastering. Obviously since this stuff is from 2001-2004 it’s going to sound a bit dated, but it sounds as good as anything from that time period and holds weight in today’s market. Several of the songs from CD2 were recorded live, which can easily be catastrophically bad, but all three of the live tracks sound EXCELLENT...they are actually three of the best songs in the entire set. Needless to say they are definitely CD quality recordings. The rest of the tracks are about the same volume so that they fit together as best a compilation can fit.
My only qualm about the production is that the Larvae track on CD2 is much quieter than the rest of the CD, which is annoying because it’s placed right after Mono No Aware which is very loud and punchy. So then when Larvae comes on you keep waiting for it to get really loud but it never does. However, at the correct volume, the Larvae track (remixed by censor) is really good.

Artistic Merit: n/a
It doesn’t seem pertinent to me to rate artistic merit for a CD of music from artists who played at a festival

Flow: 9/10
It flows as well as any compilation can flow. The tracks are similar enough in that they are all of the noise/industrial/ambient genre so they sound good/fitting to be showcased together; at the same time they are diverse enough so that the listener gets to hear a very wide range of sounds and there is never a moment where the thing sounds repetitive or pointless.

Overall: 9.5/10
26 songs from some of the top industrial noise guys out there...plus some random other stuff like a box and stickers, all for the questionably low price of 20 dollars (Canadian dollars mind you...so it’s probably even less in other currency). You’d have to be pretty stupid NOT to get this. In my opinion this is the perfect compilation. You get a bunch of tracks from excellent bands (if you like any of these bands, you should like the rest), the tracks are previous unreleased, they sweep a broad spectrum of sounds and moods, and they are all well done. So there is actually reason to buy and listen to this multiple times.

-dan barrett

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