(Compilation Review) The Opposite of Aloof, Vol. 1 [ACR]

The Opposite of Aloof, Vol. 1 is London-based tape purveyor ACR’s first compilation, courtesy of label head Adam Badi Donoval, aka Mt Accord. I was drawn in when I saw that international ambient community staple Strom Noir drops in for the closing stretch of this roughly seventy-five-minute-long undertaking, but what I truly relished here was the sheer number of relative unknowns here, all of them delivering textural and often enchanting work. This massive collection of drone, electronica, and soft noise marks the debut of many of the artists involved; more or less all of them will be characters to keep an eye on in the coming years.

Loop-based ambient sketches, slow and contemplative, with electro-acoustic details giving another dimension to warm synths, often give the feel of the first moments after awakening. All the same, the discerning nature of the artists gathered here also means we are not meant to be lulled: Ondrej Zajac’s excellent contribution “zenjju”, in which it is deliberately not clear whether reverberant clatterings and whispers are electronic sounds physically modeled/soaked in effects or came from actual objects recorded in an extremely resonant space, makes that evident enough. The epic-length third and second to last contributions, “Subliminal Storms” and “Metaphysical Church Can You Help At The Disco”, from Izanasz and Teapot, respectively, are perhaps the highlights: Izanasz’s dark ambient depths gradually turn to a luminous, bracing flurry. Teapot’s dun-colored, minimal downtempo billows with static and ebbing remembrances at its edges. Keeping with that unpredictable spirit are the nervy ripples of Jacques Kustod’s dissonant and glitchy “A Song Can Make Or Ruin A Person’s Day If They Let It Get To Them”.

A jaw-dropping debut. Here’s hoping you’ll stay tuned for more…

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