Another year, another expertly curated compilation touches down courtesy of Cocoon Recordings. Somehow, the world keeps turning and with it the Cocoon universe keeps expanding, causing subtle yet persuasive shifts in the sonic soundscape that continue to capture and captivate the imagination. In time-honored tradition the old guard and the new combine with devastating effect, to define the current state of play…
Veteran Techno producer Stephen Brown makes it clear the compilation series is back with a bang, opening things up in epic fashion with the lucid dreamscape ‘Level Steps’ - a true work of art. Another heavy-weight hitter steps straight up in the form of Claude von Stroke, who adds his own unique swagger to proceedings with those trademark shuffling beats and freaky, hypnotic bleeps scuffling for dominance on ‘Moody Fuse’. Denis Horvat then slows things down on ‘Monomono’, with post-rave abstractions and disobedient synth-patches causing mayhem before the track finally unfolds in all its terrifying beauty.
Motoring on, the collection wastes no time reaching that familiar tipping point as we enter the techno phase of the journey. A very special appearance from Daniel Avery makes it all the more worthwhile amid a dense forest of chiming melodies and blistering electrical surges on ‘Your Future Looks Different In The Light’, before Jeroen Search’s aptly titled ‘Subversive Elements’ lead us deeper and deeper, into the matrix.
Marco Bailey then kicks off a triptych of trance with some massive filtered piano action on ‘Kanai’ that’s destined to trigger a serotonin smile with everyone it touches. Revisiting the huge, ever-growing pulsating brain of planet Orb, Damiano van Erckert continues the loved-up vibe on the gorgeously titled ‘500 People 500 Hearts 1 Love’, expertly complimenting the classic ambience with some slick 909 snare and cymbal interplay. The melodic pull of ‘Vision99’ then signifies that the party is peaking at just the right moment as YOKTO concocts a glistening, psychedelic groove. The emotional resonance climbs ever higher with brittle melodies endlessly circling a lush, throbbing bass drone to create the sense of something stirring out of reach.
Just when you think the acid sound is done and dusted, up pops a track like Jonathan Kaspar’s ‘CCC’ that somehow manages to offer an entirely new perspective. Riding in on a wave of expectant arpeggios, the squelching bass and noise filter go toe to toe before Kaspar gets busy with a freaky tempo excursion that’ll be destroying dance floors all year long. ‘The Art of Electronics’ is, as the title suggests, another superlative example of pure analogue fire, served up by UK legend, Andrew Meecham aka The Emperor Machine. The funk starts to flow as the bass drops, the machines cut loose and a swarm of cascading bleeps ride the trans-europa express to oblivion.
Electro overlord Carl Finlow, has come to define the UK take on the genre over the last couple of decades. Here, he makes his long overdue label debut, taking us into the closing straight with a nervous sliver of dystopian futurism, complete with molten basslines and a fuzzy logic that underpins the tight, laser-guided groove on ‘Surface Control’. DeFeKT then draws this great adventure to a close with the deliciously dark robo-disco overtones of ‘Terraform’ creating a dusky landscape that skillfully seduces the listener before the tension finally breaks in a wash of ecstatic chords.
All in all, it’s a supremely ambitious collection of tracks, generously featuring some of the most inspirational and durable artists of their respective generations. In fact, is this perhaps the best Cocoon Compilation to date?