Sweaty Records – “Blizzard People” Compilation (2019)

Sometimes I ask myself questions like, “Is it OK to review a digital-only release on a blog dedicated to vinyl”, or “Should I write about this record if I’m ambivalent about it”.  If I’m foolish enough to ask things like this out loud and within earshot of Mrs. Life in the Vinyl Lane, inevitably she’ll remind me, “It’s your blog, you can do whatever you want on it”.  Which is both true and good advice.  Recently I’ve been asking myself if a compilation could qualify for my year-end Top 5 releases list, and based on the strength of Blizzard People and my wife’s insightful reminders I think that answer is a definitive yes, at least for 2019, because it’s that good.

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The digital release of the six song Blizzard People came out back in March, and conservatively I’d guess I’ve played it at least 30 times since then.  It’s definitely the 2019 release I’ve played the most times this year, and I’m still not even remotely tired of it. I’ve been holding off writing about it until the vinyl version came out and earlier this week it appeared in my mailbox, so away we go.

I was hooked right from the opening beats of Logitech’s “Leather Forecast” and its refrain, does your wife even know…  It’s mysterious and mildly dangerous, the raised eyebrow of a bystander who finds themselves surprisingly attracted to something they normally wouldn’t give a second look.  Does your wife even know… maybe you’re actually into this even though you’d never even considered it before.  And that’s both exciting and a bit unsettling, just like these beats.

While I was already familiar with Iceland’s Sweaty Records from their 2016 VA_001 comp and therefore on board with their aesthetic, it was the involvement of Kuldaboli that initially drew me to Blizzard People.  And here he’s paired with none other than Volruptus, the duo combining on the high-tempo scattershot “Nightvision”, a high-pitched Speed Racer of a jam that would wear me out on the dance floor even though it’s only four-and-a-half minutes long.

Blizzard People is available online at Bandcamp HERE, both digitally and on vinyl (€12).  And I say get it while you can because this thing is hot as hell – all six tracks are outstanding.

Volruptus – “Homeblast” (2017)

volruptushomeblastLately I’ve been a bit selective on the electronic albums I write about.  Not because they’ve sucked or anything, but simply because I find the genre difficult to put into words.  But sometimes a record just clicks with me, and when that happens I feel the urge to dash off at least a paragraph or two about it, which is how I find myself writing about Volruptus’ four song 12″ Homeblast.

Iceland born and Berlin based, Volruptus’ style is some deep techno space UFO stuff, something little silver aliens with massive heads and huge eyes that are as black as the void would probably make if they made electronica.  The pulsar-like beats are overlaid with electro-strangeness that sounds like it’s coming out of the equipment in a mad scientist’s lab, like sonic waveforms flowing across the screen of some kind of 1960s era apparatus.  This isn’t high tech and fancy; it’s old-school and edgy.

You can listen to these tracks as well as some of Volruptus’ other work on his Soundcloud page HERE.  But watch out for those aliens.  I hear they’ll use probes on you…

“Sweaty Records VA_001” Compilation (2016)

I feel like I should open with a brief apology for the drop-off in posts recently.  I’ve basically been commuting back and forth between Seattle and Los Angeles over the past four months, having made 14 separate trips to California over the last 17 weeks.  When I’m there I spend almost all of my waking hours working, and when I’m home on the weekends there are lots of things to do and get done.  I kind of hit the mental wall a few weeks ago and it’s been hard to get motivated to sit down and write, plus I haven’t had as much time to pick up new music, which is a bummer.

Fortunately I now have a bit of a break in my work schedule, and as an added bonus a box full of goodies just arrived from my friends at Reykjavik’s Lucky Records.  There were a few things a I wanted to get my hands on that aren’t available here in the US, and I told my friend Gestur to add in anything new he thought I might be interested in hearing.  And, as usual, Gestur came through in a big way, so I should have plenty of blog fodder for the next few weeks.

The most pleasant surprise so far actually isn’t a record or a tape, but a CD.  Now, I don’t write about CDs very often, and for me to include one pretty much requires two things:  (1) CD is probably the only format the music is available on, and (2) it has to be outstanding.

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The Sweaty Records VA_001 compilation fulfills both of those criteria.

You can’t walk 20 feet down the mean streets of Reykjavik without meeting someone who is in a band.  And over the last few years that level of musical depth seems to have expanded to include new micro labels, which are proliferating like the rabbits that run wild in the hill around Perlan.  Sometimes these are simply ways for an artist to put out his/her music.  Other times the artist uses the label to release other local talent as well, and that appears to be the case for Sweaty Records.  Co-founder Volruptus is an Icelandic electronic artist, and he joins six of his friends to contribute some fantastic electro tracks to this compilation.

Volruptus opens the disc with his own track, “Seduced,” a mildly dark and electric thumper that uses a strong danceable beat for a foundation on top of which is added a buzzing middle layer and the occasional sexy moan.  That first song sets the tone for the rest, with the entire collection keeping things on the darker and lower side, moody electro-goodness with some strong beats.  Kosmodod’s “Komets” deserves an honorable mention, a track that could easily have been part of Gusgus’ dark masterpiece 24/7 – it’s that damn good.  Lowdown Operation’s “Under the Radar” is a major bumper with a rich low end, while Stranger Reglur brings an almost chiptuney vibe to the mix with “Kuldaboli.”  Truth be told, there isn’t a single clunker on the comp – all seven songs are excellent.

I believe the CD version of Sweaty Records VA_001 is limited to only 50 copies, but have no fear, my friends, because you can listen to the entire thing free online HERE and even buy the digital download by naming your own price.  So you have no excuse not to check it out, and if you like it, why not kick the guys a couple of bucks and download it?  Once you listen to the tunes you’ll know that it’s worth it.