V/A: Before We Melt: Cyclic Defrost Review


Since its inception back in 2001, Oakland, California-based free netlabel IVDT has emphasised “quality over quantity” – a maxim that’s allowed them to build up a label catalogue of download-only releases that would put many commercial labels to shame. With the Northern Hemisphere winter approaching, this latest seasonally themed compilation from IVDT Before We Melt gathers together ten new tracks from the label’s artist roster that lean predominantly towards gentle IDM and downbeat electronics. While the tracklisting favours lesser known producers, n5MD’s Bitcrush and Lackluster are the two most recognisable names: the former’s ‘Glacial’ certainly lives up to its title, opening proceedings with a wash of intricately textured glitchy ambience that almost calls to mind the crunch of snow under foot. Lackluster’s ‘Kontulalibrarytrak’ ventures further out into majestic downbeat landscapes, rich melodic synth pads and analogue synth squelches, drifting out over a planktonic backdrop of slow, pneumatic beats.

By contrast, Phortran’s piano-led ‘First Snow’ manages to inject a sense of digitally-sculpted soul amidst its playfully off-centre jazzy rhythms and trilling clavinet keys. Qu.one’s ‘The Best July’ offers up what’s perhaps this collection’s most icy and brittle moment, with tremulous digital processing lurking at the very edges like alien chatter as arrhythmic broken rhythms trace a serene path beneath. It’s also not just purely IDM that’s on the listening menu here, as Edison’s laidback fusion of digitally-reconstructed acoustic guitars and DJ Shadow-esque drum breaks on ‘Isis and Eve’ and Headphone Science’s epic wander into moody dubstep on ‘Snefnug’ (a standout highlight), clearly illustrate. An excellent download-only compilation from IVDT that’s well worth investigating – you can also download it for free from http://ivdt.net/ivdtmp3070.html.

Chris Downton