VA: History Is Bunk Part 1

VA: History Is Bunk Part 2

Might this be Hefty's 'golden era'? Certainly the prime cuts occupying its two-part History Is Bunk volumes suggest as much. Celebrating ten years of Hefty action with new pieces, collaborations, and inspired remixes by figures like Dabrye and Jan Jelinek, the first volume starts audaciously with Slicker's “Russian Ice Slide,” a spacey micro-techno experiment from Hefty head John Hughes that alternates Saturn ammo warfare and elephantine blasts, before moving onto L'Altra's sweeping, string-laden epic “The Last” and Dabrye's creaking kalimba-funk workout of Some Water and Sun's “Snowbreaker”—and that's merely the opening three cuts. Add ruminative jazz-flavoured excursions from Chris Case (love those cascading vibes and Phil Ranelin's warm trombone), Daedelus's sunny overhaul of Savath + Savalas's “Paths in Soft Focus,” and splendid catalogue mash-ups by Eliot Lipp and Warp's Jimmy Edgar (his memorably tight “Outer City Sound” stutter-funk) to the mix and you're all set…

For part two, that is, which includes new tracks by Spanova (Shin and Ken Tasaki's brightly-lit head-nodder “Absentminded”), Plus Device (the wiry electro of “Compose The Beat”), Lipp (the marvelous synth-funk strut of “Heat”), and a sweet remix by JLE (Joshua Eustis, presumably) of Slicker's “Lucas.” Ultimately what most distinguishes Hughes' Hefty imprint is that each act brings something stylistically distinctive to the proceedings. There's no one else who sounds quite like Eliot Lipp or Telefon Tel Aviv, for example, and, rather than five melancholy pop outfits, Hefty's got one—L'Altra—but what a fine one it is. Yes, the momentum sags occasionally on both albums (Ryuichi Sakamoto's microsound treatment of Telefon Tel Aviv's “Sound in a Dark Room,” the overlong groove “Anticamera Dei Dubbi” by Retina.IT) but the overall quality remains high nonetheless.

May 2006