Review – Various Artists – Retcon (Bricolage)

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Retcon Review - Various Artists - Retcon (Bricolage)

Retcon is the new compilation from Scottish label Bricolage, who “specialize in distinctive sonic adventures from both local and global producers.” And what an adventure this is. This can be listened to as the stand alone compilation of eclectic sounds and artists that it is, and it can also be listened to, whether unintended or purposely, as an almost seamless mixtape of similar sounds. The cohesion of the tracks especially at the front end of this compilation is a major strength, giving form and support to the individual tracks. It works either way to beautiful results.

The adventure launches as a confectioner’s delight, with sounds as delicate and sweet as spun sugar. Many of the tracks gently approach a shimmering pool of ambience, dipping a toe in to test the waters but never quite jumping fully in. They never quite reach a deeper level of abstractness, as they keep quietly anchored by a buried drum track here or a minimal click track there. They instead prefer to lay on the shore, letting waves of analog synth wash over them and then drying out in the dusty haze of a summer afternoon.

The warmth each of these tracks exude is a constant soothing theme throughout the collection. Dark Fidelity HiFi’s Hanasku is a perfect example of this warmth with lightly plucked strings, tip toed clicks and lovely cascading echoes all steadily building to a sudden wash out.

Fragile X arrives with Track 10 and introduces some lighthearted and minimal yet jumpy drum and bass to pick up the pace a little bit and kick away the heaviness of the synth washes. Then immediately transitions into a dark and creepy, haunted track 11 from No Arrival. Sounds of creaky floorboards and doors help to create some dense atmosphere and tension leading into the next two tracks of glitching sci-fi soundscapes which would not be completely out of place in some kind of FSOL tribute.

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From here on in we lose a bit of the cohesion of compilation but for me at least it is no less enjoyable as we start to really explore some diversity in the tracks and artists. Here we get some house, disco, tropical and techno bangers which could also serve as dance floor fillers, and finally almost ending with Sulevia’s “Bamboo” which is whatever genre you care to tag it as even if you have to make one up. I will tag it as amazing.

Solemn chanting, finger picked guitar, glitchy hip hop beats, Bamboo seems to encapsulate everything Bricolage stands for and throws it all into one all too brief track tucked away nearly at the end of this extremely well put together compilation. Ending the comp for real is a ten minute monster of an ambient track, quietly and serenely ending this Bricolage adventure.

Honestly there are no filler tracks here which is certainly saying something for a compilation that is 20 tracks deep. This was clearly put together with intense care and attention to detail and it’s success is obvious within every track. This was my introduction to Bricolage records but it will not be my last foray into their world. I’m already looking forward to my next adventure with them.

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