Electric Ladyland: Clickhop Version 1.0
Record label: Mille Plateaux (Germany)
Format: 3xLP/2xCD
Release date: October 2001

The Electric Ladyland series has always been about experiments in breakbeat, giving electronic musicians a chance to infiltrate urban musical enviroments with their own. The latest volume is no exception, focusing heavily on incorporating the sensibilities of hip-hop and R&B into a static-filled aesethetic. In the wake of the laptop musician's obsession with producers like Timbaland, Mannie Fresh, and The Neptunes, some interesting hybrids have been popping up within the last few years.

But I do have to take issue with the subtitle: "Clickhop"?? As if terms like "trip-hop," "acid jazz," and "intelligent jungle" haven't already done enough damage. Meaningless subgenre titles are a troublesome European phenomenon, conjured up by lazy journalists more interested in club scene drama than the new CD on their desk. That annoying factor aside (not like it's the artists' fault), the compilation is quite good and remains both challenging and accessible at the same time.

All tracks are previously unreleased and exclusive to this compilation. The experimental house cuts are immediate ear-grabbers, like "Don't Follow" featuring Sophie Rimheden's haunting vocals riding a wave of crackling kickdrums and snares. Auch goes the microhouse route with "All That Pretty Horses," clicks and cuts abound. The ever-present Vladislav Delay returns with "The Return of Us," techno that knocks around like Timbaland at a faster pace. The same can be said for Monophace's "Rogue" (actually, it can't decide between techno and 2-step) and particularly "My Blister Is Connected To My Fingers" by Safety Scissors. Meanwhile, Open Source loads a "Fullclip," a confused darkstepper that isn't quite sure which way is up.

High Priest of the Anti-Pop Consortium goes solo for some mind-warping hip-hop. Ditto for Dälek, getting lost in Kid 606's laptop on "Ruin It." And it would be criminal if i didn't point out Graphite's "Five-11-West". Kinda hard for this one not to stand out - it's a dead-on IDM interpretation of the ghetto fabulous stutter step, steadily pulsating underneath that all-too-familiar refrain, "where all my niggas at?" (is the term "nigga" really that alluring while drenched in layers of digital signal processing emanating from some geek's Powerbook? i'll have to ask sometime...) Lots of showstoppers on this one, the most charming of which is Akufen's "Little Hop of Horror," a slow jazz swing pelted with interrupting radio frequencies and TV snow. A top-notch compilation - worlds apart from others in its camp.


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