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flag Canada - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 7 - 05/22/97

Various Artists
Switch Records 1992-97 / Northern Circuits

Hello, and greetings from Canada! My name is Greg Clow, and I'm the second Canadian to join the happy international bunch here at the Kafé. But while my fellow Canuck, Laura, brings you reviews of releases from our country's indie-rock scene, I'll be covering something else entirely: our thriving electronic music scene!

I was hoping to prepare a sort of primer or introduction to Canadian electronic music as my first contribution to the Kafé, but I couldn't get it together in time for the deadline. Perhaps next month? We'll see. But in the meantime, these two compilation discs provide a pretty nice taste of what Canada has to offer.

As the title of my first selection suggests, Switch Records 1992-97 is an anthology release covering the first five years in the existence of the experimental techno label Switch, which is run by a Toronto area techno composer/producer named Himadri. As with most labels specializing in 12" vinyl releases, Switch has received little recognition beyond adventurous DJs and hardcore trainspotter types, but this CD should change that. Combining the best tracks from the label's back catalogue along with new, unreleased and remixed material, 1992-97 contains nothing but the highest quality in tweaked-out electronic bliss, with highlights including a remix of the mini-classic The Wipe by Teste (as seen in the U.S. on MTV's AMP!) and a gorgeous ethereal-ambient piece by Silent Floor entitled Aka Iro. All in all, proof that the sound of the underground is alive and well.

One should note, however, that this "underground" does not exist solely in southern Ontario, the area of Canada where the Switch crew is based. On the contrary, we have artists creating electronic vibes from sea to shining sea, and many of them appear on Northern Circuits. Compiled by the Montreal based Interchill label, this disc includes contributions from the label's homebase, as well as other major urban centres (Vancouver & Toronto) and even a few points in between. The result is a lush and organic sounding collection of chill-out and ambient dub grooves, with highlights coming from Watershell, Legion of Green Men, Mere Mortals, and (a personal favorite) David Kristian, who reins in his usually manic drum'n'bass tendencies on his track Want to provide a spacey excursion based around a lazy, low-key breakbeat. Yum.

Copyright © 1997 Greg Clow

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