Dystopian Label Compilations

[Dystopian Visions sleeve]"Dystopian Visions"(Album, 2000)

The first thing you notice about this CD is its weight. This is due to the glossy, 36-page booklet that accompanies it. For although this is another industrial compilation album (of which there are far too many for such a relatively small genre), it differs from 95% of the competition in that it actually has something to say. At a time when technology makes it very easy to produce music quickly, it's good to know that a label like Dystopian exists to add some purpose to all the noise. Their manifesto recognises that over the last decade industrial has moved away from the cold clanging of the factory and into the warm rhythms of the dancefloor and doesn't, unlike other industrial labels, have a problem with that (123 is the average BPM here). What it does take issue with is the lack of political comment or thought in that music. Dystopian's aim is to bring politics onto the dancefloor. With this in mind, this release pulls together artists from across the globe and provides them with a platform from which to air their personal views and visions of what the future might hold for us all. As you'd expect, their aren't many utopian vistas on view.

The artists range from the highly political, cf. Snog, to the seemingly less so, like Project-X, yet the result is remarkably cohesive. Cohesive in that they share an outlook that at the very least is based upon questioning most everything that capitalist western society thrives upon. Less homogenised, thankfully, is the music itself. There is a welcome, progressive view of what the term 'industrial' really means at the beginning of the 21st century, giving rise to a tendency towards intelligent EBM/IDM territory rather than the harshcore of screeching guitars and monotone vocals favoured by others on the scene; who, it should be said, are often the ones producing the more overtly political industrial music (I'm thinking here of the Armalyte Industries movement currently gaining ground in the UK scene). However, Deathline International, Flesh Field, Stromkern and the like ensure that those who do like guitars to lead the way won't be left out in the cold.

Of the total 16 tracks, 13 are either exclusive remixes or previously unreleased versions. Many, like Takshaka vs Snog's 'vocal edit' of Snog's aptly titled The Future are substantially reworked. The alterations providing different but related perspectives on the original content. The album also gave me the opportunity to sample some artists for the first time. Personal favourites for a variety of reasons include din_fiv's "Future Perfect mix" of Flesh Field's Utopia, Railgun's "Oblivion remix" of Assemblage 23's Skyquake, Railgun's own Near Future Statistic and Distant Pulses by Negative Format. The 36-page, full-colour booklet provides more food for thought. With a scene-setting introduction by a certain K. Collins of Liverpool University (thankfully not suffering too much from academic twaddle), what follows are two pages dedicated to each of the 16 tracks. Where applicable, lyrics are included, but of equal if not greater interest are the short 'statements' that most artists have contributed. These range from thoughts on the song creation or more overtly political statements. They make perfect reading when listening to the album and, hopefully, will spur others onto deeper thought about the world around them. If not, then you've still got a bloody good industrial dance compilation that's well worth getting your money out for. 7/10

Rob Dyer

Official Dystopian Records website: http://www.dystopianrecords.com