REVIEW Various Artists ‘Secret Weapons Part 10’ [Innervisions]

When Innervisions jumpstarted 2018 with the ground, or horizon rather, breaking EP, Broad Horizons, they must have meant it, and literally. The label’s second release of the year, the 10th chapter of their oft highly-anticipated annual compilation Secret Weapons, cruises beyond the horizon, traversing into extraterrestrial realms and other-dimensional territories, through innovative and inventive sound scapes and shapes, synthetic in facade, but accentuated and subsisted by organic sound structures. A mesclun of fresh faces and label alumni, the eight-track EP is forward-driven at its fabric, futuristic in sound, style and cumulatively, in aphorism.

Starting off Secret Weapons 10 is an Innervisions alumnus and previous Secret Weapon engineer, Aera, an applauded talent who through the years honed and aced the dub style. In IV78, Aera maneuvers Secret Weapons 10’s shortest track in a tendrillar motion, applying his signature style on a bubbling and transcendent 5:40 minute rendezvous through ‘Moon Palace’. Berliner Nitam, cuts us through ‘JS-42’ with an arousing tech house groove, spiked with a catchy bassline and elaborated with sophisticated synth sound manipulation and recoi. Rough in texture, ‘JS-42’ perfectly adds some friction, an efficient mode of warming up a dancefloor.

If the aim is to move forward and push boundaries, electronic music maven and longtime gameplayer Marc Romboy is a smart choice. Known for his eclectic and genre-bending productions, the German’s style fits Innervisions’ current modus operandi perfectly, here with his temperature-raising hit, ‘Infrared’. Set in the keynote of benediction, B1 is defiant and self-confident, and ingenious administration of synthetic sounds, bass-beaten by ebullient drum pattern, that together emulate a heart-pumping foreplay between electromagnetic radiation from a multitude of wavelengths. Back to back on Secret Weapons 9 and 10 and rightfully so, is Arian 911, with one of the most solid productions in this release. Ignited by elemental drumplay which is a rare gem in this particular compilation, ‘See U’ in 2050 builds up elegantly with layers of delicately crafted sound structures. All elements harmoniously synchronize, spell-bound to a dulcet melody, yet kept textured through sporadic insertion of mechanical vocals, a pleasant orchestration from beginning to end.

Another standout track starts off disc two, a proven crowd pleaser, emotionally-stirring and striking in various fronts. Through ‘Blue Dome Escargot’, Stereocalypse, half Andrea Doria and half Enrico DeVecchi, more commonly known by his alias, Olderic, do not only demonstrate adeptness in music production but savvy of dancefloor dynamics as well. A steady progression of percussion incinerates the course of the 6:24 number, and nimbly carves a hollow for a romantic requiem to break free in. ‘Blue Dome Escargot’ carries a distinctive, melodramatic melody at its very core and all other soundscapes and applications building up to and cosseting it until the end, work to make it all the more exquisite.

Finishing up the stronger of all IV78’s sides is Underspreche’s flight, ‘From The Exotism to The Future’, a bustling, labyrynthine composition that takes its finesse from chaos. Strata upon strata of complex sound mechanisms, Marika and Simone interweave organic sounds, mostly from exotic cultivation into a mosaic where each piece retains its character but agily waltzes and tangos into a future of obscure circumscriptions. Strident drumplay, confidence in handling extreme pitches, outlandish vocals, a non-linear course, altogether make C2 a body convulsing dancefloor incendiary.

On D1, Frankey & Sandrino revisits Marc Houle’s 2017 offshoot from Sinister Minds, ‘Paligama’. Both producer and remixer are no newcomers to Innervisions, and the byproduct of the compilation’s only remix, worked to suit the label’s palate. Beautiful sequencing, dainty electronic interpolations and a non-overbearing yet consistent air of transcendence throughout make Frankey & Sandrino’s remix of ‘Paligama’ an elegant ode to an escapist venture. Secret Weapons 10 sought to take listeners into an excursion and the destination it seems is quite ‘Far from Here.’ Concluding the eight-track voyage beyond the confines of our comfort levels is Argentina’s promising talent, Ditian. Melody-driven, the progressive track carries a steady bassline that veers away from lambasting our senses, and rather draws strength from grace. A picturesque finale that soothes any unease, affixed to the idea of distance.

The usual springboard for fresh talent, did not take the less traveled route, featuring more established producers than some of their previous releases, most recently Secret Weapons 9. It may also be perceived as less ambitious, featuring only two discs, four tracks short of its predecessor and even five less than Secret Weapons 8, or redundant, sewing all tracks along a themed axis. But if we value quality over quantity, no need to fret. Secret Weapons 10 is a solid compilation of heavy-hitting, tried and tested dancefloor hits, whether to warm up, to set ablaze or cool down a dancefloor. All eight tracks are innovative, introducing listeners to the possible trails and trajectories of electronic music so long as we let sound prance and play. Though some tracks may seem stronger than others, collectively Secret Weapons 10, once it fully seeps in, is ready and able to meet the high expectations of industry heavyweights and music enthusiasts alike.

Secret Weapons 10 was released March 16th on Innervisions. (Marie)