VARIOUS ARTISTS: Physic Or Surgery (Highpoint Lowlife)


Posted on Sep 21st 2011 01:31 am

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V/A: Physic Or Surgery

Physic Or Surgery
Highpoint Lowlife 2011
28 Tracks. 138mins42secs

Amazon UK: DLD US: DLD Boomkat: DLD iTunes: DLD

The statement is brutal: HPLL058 Physic Or Surgery – The Final Release. In these days where music has become a commodity with often very little value, the demise of a record label, especially one with such an excellent track record as that of Highpoint Lowlife, is a severe blow. Over a period of ten years, the label spearheaded by Thorsten Sideb0ard has consistently found itself at the forefront of contemporary underground electronic music in its many forms, and occasionally beyond, and provided a steady home or temporary shelter for artists as diverse as Fisk Industries, Erstlaub, Si-Cut.db, Bovaflux, , Marshall Watson, 10-20, Dalglish, Like A Stuntman and the Marcia Blaine School For Girls umbrella of projects, including The Village Orchestra and Production Unit.

As Sideb0ard is turning his attention to writing and drawing comics (Physic Or Surgery is also the title of a comic available to download from the HPLL website), he has compiled an impressive twenty-eight track mastodon compilation which isn’t quite a simple retrospective trying to cram ten years in just over two hours but which instead offers a wealth of previously unreleased material from a big slice of the label’s entire roster. Expectedly, the result is incredibly varied, bringing together lush ambient textures, oppressive atmospherics, dense abstract experimentations, elegant techno, hip-hop-infused grooves, urban flavours or playful electro under one banner.

Picking up highlights is here pretty pointless, so wide is the scope of this compilation, yet some undeniably deserve particular mentions, if only because they crystalize, in their own way, HPPL’s overall visionary approach. Depakote, with the psychedelic Casnoc Is Dead, and Fisk Industries with the more urgent Death Is The Final Step, adopt hip-hop-infused grooves to very different effects, while Gravious’s Ghostly Steps and Spatial’s Checks Out are fueled with pulsating dubsteb flavours, the former wrapped in lush soundscapes, the latter presented in much more minimal form. Beats are present on a majority of the pieces collected here, and come in all shades and forms, but techno seems to dominate at least part of the selection, from the fluid (Marshall Watson’s Liquid Solid) and dubbey (randomNumber’s K Revisited, Twerk’s Have 10, Need 20) to the motorik (10-20’s Bloomback, Marcia Blaine’s Loopy Dobber), and dreamy (TVO’s I’m Everything That Never Happened To You). Erik XVI carves a rather magnificent techno/electro hybrid with When Particles Collide, while Hot City’s No Matter What I Do is a fun and playful soul-infused piece which is not without recalling some of Nightmares On Wax’s early experiments.

When the mood settles for cooler tones, the harvest is as rich, from Bovaflux’s rather sumptuous Temazapam or Pausal’s peaceful and luxurious Afar to Erstlaub’s droney Team Handed We Go, Into The Night, while Friends Of The Jitney’s haunting Leafcutter John remix of Good Mourning recalls the bleak atmospheres of This Mortal Coil’s Filigree And Shadow. On a different level, the claustrophobic textures and heavy groove of Dalglish’s Mordsun and Sideb0ard’s Grind seem to find an unlikely echo in the greasy electro of Kenny Crunk’s Baxter Bad Yin and the deconstructed abstraction of Calika’s Diagonal B.

In the space of ten years and just under sixty releases, Highpoint Lowlife has been one of the most consistent imprints around, and its demise is likely to be felt for some time, yet Thorsten Sideb0ard leaves behind him an substantial catalogue and this last blast of life, which should be appreciated with absolutely no moderation. Farewell Highpoint Lowlife, and thank you for the music.


Highpoint Lowlife
Amazon UK: DLD US: DLD Boomkat: DLD iTunes: DLD

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