Wasp Factory Label Compilations

[Working With Children & Animals - Volume 1 sleeve]"Working With Children & Animals - Volume 1" (Album, 2000)

"The future was never meant to be this BLAND." so says the Outcast Manifesto in the sleeve notes to this first Wasp Factory comp. It goes on: "If there's one thing the future has given us, it's the tools to take the DIY Punk ethic that one stage further..." Nice sentiments but what about the content? Well, whilst not quite as anarchic nor chaotic as one might anticipate after reading the introduction, there's certainly something going down in the Wasp Factory worthy of your attention.

Sixteen tracks by eight artists - that's two a piece for the retards among you - with elements by ninth artist Freudstein 'scattered liberally throughout' the compilation. The result is slightly schizophrenic, not quite the cohesive, manifesto-driven sampler I was expecting. But I guess you can at least credit the label with selecting distinctive artists and not merely signing up variations on a theme. Having been entertained by The Chaos Engine several times live, I was disappointed by their two efforts - except for the final moments of Complicit neither really show them in their best light. Arkham Asylum's Machine and Get Some have some comedy value - but not sure if that's deliberate or merely a side product. Definitely not for me. next up are the reliable Leech Woman. Section 13 immediately offers up their trademark rhythmic rumbling but the remix of Kincaid is the contemplative sound of a wind-swept post apocalyptic landscape. Personal anathema Goteki are up next and nothing they offer up does anything to change my views.

Next we're treated to Tarantella Serpentine, the alter ego of one bespectacled man from Cheltenham. Whilst the "Crackwhore remix" of Cocaine Disco Riot does little to excite, the pumping Sugar Sugar is really quite intruiging. The opening moments in particular show some clever harsh techno tweaking that could see Tarantella doing strong repeat business on dancefloors across the globe. Hydra's two tracks Feverdream and Wake demonstrate the extremes of this anarchic post punk/post industrial project. I'm a fan of Hydra but Feverdream doesn't really go anywhere despite its brief running time. Wake on the other hand is about as 'musical' as Hydra get. With an addictive flabby bass line and their distinctive chaotic percussion (unusually) kept in the background. Excellent use of samples and vocal blend. Squid's Khurkh of the Binary Khrist (Remix) doesn't live up to its title, but by now it is possible to make out repeating patterns in at least some (if not all) the artists in the Wasp Factory stable. On their second track Squid, like Hydra before them, have taken the opportunity to show how diverse they can sound. The mid tempo Chasing Dragons is not only far more original than Khurkh... it's much better song writing too. Great use of guitars.

Finally, finishing off this first Wasp Factory sampler we've Skinflowers with Striplight and Mad Powder Keg. Apart from the rare burst of white noise or slightly noisy guitar, it's hard to know why this very 'safe' sounding outfit are part of the Wasp Factory movement. There's no semblance of 'punk' ethic in anything they offer up here. It might appeal to some but I'd be surprised if it were the same people that have enjoyed any of the artists that had already passed before their ears. One can only imagine that Skinflowers are the Factory's secret weapon for chart domination and that they'll use the band to give them some commercial success and leverage in order that the label can then unleash their true agenda mercenaries onto an unsuspecting mass audience. No doubt causing chaos, the collapse of the chart system and letting anarchy rule the airwaves until the end of civilisation. Hmm, you clever little devils you. 7/10

Rob Dyer

Official Wasp Factory website: http://www.wasp-factory.co.uk