Various Artists - Close To The Noise Floor [Cherry Red Records - 2016]Close To The Noise Floor is a rather splendid four CD/ book set that celebrates & chronicles early British electronica between the mid 1970’s & the mid 1980’s. The compilation is certainly a varied & highly consistent ride- stopping off in DIY techno, proto-synth pop, more noise bound/ experimental tinged terrority, bright ‘n’ buoyant futuristic electronica, electro- ambience, and beyond.
The whole thing is packaged in a rather nice CD sized hardback book, utilizing a minimalistic white, red, and black colour scheme. This features the four discs each in their own card slipcases, and in the middle we get a 48 page book. The book features a short essay about formative electrionica, a selection of photos flyers, and cover artwork. With the remained/ bulk of the book been taken up by informative & often lengthy write-ups about each of the 60 tracks featured here; and these are mostly by the artists themselves- which gives great insight into the tracks creations.
The acts featured move from early more experimental tracks from the more known & later pop bound projects such as The Human League & Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark. Onto more known underground acts like Throbbing Gristle, Legendary Pink Dots, Muslimgauze, and Collin Potter. Though to the more obscure & rare tracks/ acts.
The first disc focus in more on instrumental based tracks that move from DIY techno, more experimental/slight noisy fare, onto more buoyant electronica.While the second disc features more vocal based tracks that flit between avant electro pop & lo-fi proto-Synth pop. The third disc moves back to slighty longer electro instrumental work-out, which move from the darker more brooding, onto the more quirky & bright, to more edgy & experimental fare. And lastly the forth disc dips more in off-angular/ experimental electro waters with the likes of Throbbing Gristle, Renaldo & The Loaf, and Legendary Pink Dots.
Each of the four discs unfolds in a very rounded & consistent manner- meaning pretty much where ever you touch down you’ll find high sonic creativity & interesting song craft. I know it’s somewhat of a cliché, but I found it very difficult to chose favourite tracks, let alone favourite discs, but if pushed I’d say the first & forth discs stood out most to me, but really as a whole the collection is fairly flawless.
With out a doubt this collection is one of the highlights of 2016, and should be picked up by anyone interested in 70’s/ 80’s electronic music. Yet another great, well thought-out, and put together release from the Cherry Red family of labels. Roger Batty