Switched On – Air Texture VII compiled by Rrose & Silent Servant (Air Texture)

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

The innovative Air Texture compilation series reaches the magnificent seven, staying true to its principles. The idea is that two producers with a connection hook up for a double compilation, whose only proviso is that the music should not be ‘straight ahead club music’. Early volumes in the series tended to be much more ambient, with some completely devoid of beats, but as the canon has developed so has the open and inclusive approach.

This is one of the more upfront releases so far, from Californian Seth Horvitz – now using his Rrose alias – and Silent Servant, aka Los Angeles resident Juan Mendez.

What’s the music like?

The great thing about each Air Texture release is the opportunity for musical discovery, and this is no exception. Both contributors have clearly given the collection a lot of thought, and the range of musical styles here extends from thick muffled ambience from the likes of Octo Octa, where time stands virtually still, to the other end of the scale and the relentless bass drum of JS Aurelius.

Along the way we hear fascinating ideas. The first set of twelve tracks includes probing sounds from Anthony Child and nice, spectral effects from Laurel Halo, whose Dies Ist Ein sounds great on headphones. Ron Morelli’s Psychic Harms of Economic Deprivation has dense and foreboding ambience, while AGF’s HUM-iLiTY displaces reality with eerie vocal effects,

The second set has the wonderfully cinematic Luke Slater track When It Twists, yet another example of his techno mastery, but backs this up with Mara’s Rebellion, a fascinating track which moves from sumptuous widescreen sounds to distorted, extraterrestrial fragments. Silent Servant’s own New World has a propulsive drum track but broad ambience behind, while the ever-reliable Phase Fatale offers the excellent Nightmare in LA, a bubbling and moody synth cauldron. Finally Zahlensender (ssb), from Function, takes us to the other end of the aural spectrum with glittering treble sounds.

Does it all work?

Yes. Some of the more confrontational sounds here mean the compilation is not one of outright ambience, as previous volumes have been, but at this point it is worth remembering the Air Texture philosophy of challenging as well as soothing. In that respect the pairing of Rrose and Silent Servant works a treat, fulfilling the brief while introducing new names as the best compilers should.

Many of the tracks here led to further exploration, but they hang together really well as a pair of sets.

Is it recommended?

Yes, without reservation. This may be the seventh release in the series but it is another feature in the cap of Air Texture’s bow, a compilation series where it really pays to immerse yourself in each instalment. For a listener to be challenged and soothed in equal measure is just how a series like this should be.

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