By Elizabeth Wells
'Braindance' seems to have won over quite a few converts and garnered much positive coverage since the release of Rephlex's first 'Braindance Coincidence' in 2001.
NME made the latter its compilation of the year and Rephlex became NME's 'Coolest record label on earth' (not bad for an inkie dominated by indie) and have been featured as Peelie's label of the month (quite right too). Whilst some uncharitable sods may suggest Rephlex is an unchallenging forum for showcasing Richard D. James's mates (mentioning no names), it does a good job of spreading the gospel, proselytizing for the masses. Why only the other day I nearly fell off the library steps at uni when I espied amongst all the dreary flyers for cheap pub nights, 80's discos and Fabric, a poster advertising the Rephlex / Logarhythm tour taking place in November. Things must be looking up.
Anyway, I'm glad to report that this latest compilation is a delight: far more wide-ranging, challenging and aurally diverse than the previous braindance sampler, 'Rephlexions' pokes its nose into the often noisy business of the many artists producing material for its stable, from the metallic thrash of Cylob's 'Smack Em Up Sharp' (it does exactly what it says on the tin) to the retro-pop of Bochum Welt (excitingly now working with Thomas 'close-but-no-cigar' Dolby) and the continental easy-listening of The Gentle People.
Particular gems of joy include DMX Krew's new romantic take on wistful electro, which brings 80's pop whimsy ("Don't be afraid girl, I'm thinking of you") bang up-to-date with admirable aplomb. Pierre Bastein provides something completely unique on this compilation, virtue of a rusty-sounding dadaist lament, 'Avid Diva', reminiscent of the recent Vincent Gallo releases on Warp. Bogdan Raczynski gives a hair-raising reminder as to why he's the heir apparent of mental beats, combining rolling and stuttering beats with twisted japanese vocal samples that manage to make childish innocence sound like satan's offspring.
Global Goon cuts another slice of inoffensive feel-good psychedelia, though speaking bluntly, he stands out in negative relief to the exciting portfolio of sounds being offered by the other artists here. He's as cosy as his name suggests. Another surprising musical anachronism is the final piece by AFX: 'Mangle 11' sounds as its name suggests, deploying similar whirlwind mangled breakbeats to the ones that stagger through the yawning uniformity of Drukqs. It'll please the noise junkies but that's about it.