REVIEW Various Artists ‘Uncanny Valley 50 Yellow’ [Uncanny Valley]

Celebrating their 50th catalog anniversary, the Uncanny Valley label exposes the seventh and final compilation of the visible light’s spectrum: Yellow. Helping fuel Vitamin D deficiencies manifested over quarantine, Yellow stays on par with the cheery aesthetic quality of (blinding) summer rays. Delivering magnetic waves in ensemble form, Uncanny Valley emerged from an unconventional classroom, that is, in the mystical grottoes of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. Grounded in House music, the fabulous four label-heads of the Uncanny Valley Soundsystem including Albrecht Wassersleben, Carl Suspect, Conrad Kaden, and Philipp Demankowski partner with tasteful Pop and Acid House to roll their peaks and valleys. The Dresden-based label is a model product of their environment; working around the town’s historical gaps, the Uncanny Valley socializes a community that molds enigmatic artists who are filled with tireless dynamism. Works featured on Yellow, include Cuthead, Massimiliano Pagliara, Dürerstuben, Panthera Krause, and debut Daniela La Luz. Ending on a high note, the Yellow hue features licks of feel- good Funk, absorbing Acid-House, and heady Hip-Hop as the final shade in their seven-part series. 

Jumping in (head) first, Dresden-resident and Uncanny Valley regular — Cuthead aka Robert Arnold — saturates his looping fragments into an old-school design. While musky drums coat over a worn-out floor, Party Chords immediately spits out a distorted sample to foreshadow the upcoming blast to the past. Not far behind, the funky line integrates a strong but tender affair with the taut snare drum. Head banging in the confines of Panorama Bar’s oasis, the Acid sequence breaks its way into a well-dosed 80’s House festivity. The gaming keys bounce between octaves helping buff out the Party Chords sharper cuts. Dancing on auto-pilot, the one- man crowd tunes into an inevitable flow once all three vocalists are introduced and alternate; weaving their qualities over Cuthead’s preliminary elements. The Acid showdown dwindles and transitions into a syncopated blinking board, illuminating the rhythm inside one sun-bleached head and brusquely ending in a halt.

Rolling in a slightly smoother fashion, the charming Uncanny Valley veteran, Massimiliano Pagliara sinks back into the amber haze of Sunset Funk. A dancey break-beat starts things off while endearing pads hover over canopies of clouds. The funk’s low bass drum settles and streamlines the groove’s calming tone. High-pitched chords join in stride as horn-Esque synths tack on, as if they’re cordially ending the day-shift. Around two minutes in, the billowing pads descend, and a woody percussion glides toward a robust melody. Similar to nature’s complex and serene wonderment, the frenetic and sedative chords align and equalize one another. The hollow percussion shuffles to the nearest sand bar to join some busily beating Acid bleeps. Mid-track, the initial sequence of deep bass drums returns and soothes the transition. As the light turns in for the evening, Massi flashes one last glow of accented synths and waking rings to blissfully shift into night’s dark earth tones.

Loosening straps further, the trite ‘Dürerstuben’ duo — David Hofmann and Till Gerloff — rides on the back of lo-fi Hip-Hop beats to gloss a soulful rhythm. The serendipitous German duo was grounded in Hip-hop roots before they began boiling over House’s thermostat levels. The track’s alluring verve resembles the warm timbre of a jazz crooner’s charisma. Guaranteed to start snapping in the shadows, this slow-jam is fine vice to lend your bad-self when a little self- indulgence is needed. As fingers tease the corners of a light switch, the vanguard strings take Iwesu Yewisu home and snap to close. After the blackout, the vibe bridges a fleshy mood-setter for the next striptease.

Revered on Uncanny Valley, Leipzig-born Panthera Krause harmonically fills the room using sound-healing arpeggiators. As a guaranteed banger, Naked Now opens with an irresistible bassline and begins strutting straight for center stage. Subtle shakers buzz around curling lips and gradually signal other elements to migrate towards the dance floor. Blended in the background chatter, syncopated rims crisply reverberate up until the melody enters and builds at 3:30s. The background chatter in Naked Now emanates the soundscape of a live-show, furthermore igniting a nostalgic cannon or two. Skin frissons arise from the constant sequence while a meandering rhythm brushes crowded shoulders into a sexy range of motion. Mastering the craft of elemental scenery while contrasting an even keel scale makes for this superb afternoon delight.

Mallet in hand, Daniela La Luz’s widespread expertise falls into a REM state when We Go All In And Wait. The drum layers start the grind in a paced manner, separate yet harmonious. Keeping the breath intact, hi-hats tinker about the groggy ribbets. The focus stays on the beat while a grappling sample starts to flirt with airy wind chimes. Brisk drums keep the focus as the low-cut keys loop in descending fashion. Unclear as to their relation, it becomes apparent a few minutes in when wind chimes pick up their speed and voice a sweet pure tone. Afterwards, the elements fade together and rejoice through a cosmic ebb and flow. The even-tempered pulse tapers down in a luxuriously smooth style and neatly ties a ribbon of light around the compilation.

As manic episodes in isolation have begun to dissipate, being blinded by the light has never been so refreshing. The label’s previous catalogs have procured collaborators from a multitude of spaces and places around the globe to form a divergent creed of hypnotism. Blending the complementary colors of series, the masterful Doppeldenk holds the key to the artwork’s sheer value. Over the last decade, the Uncanny Valley collaboration has amassed a fleet of artists from far and near to agglomerate dark, thrilling, and chilling rhythms. Yet, the electric effect of Yellow reflects bright tonal energy, serves as a foolproof tactic to defeat summertime blues, and invites some vivid clarity into the foreseeable future.

Uncanny Valley 50 Yellow was released on Uncanny Valley on July 7th, 2020.

Review by Isabella Gadinis

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