Various Artists – Soft Bodies Never Sleep (Soft Bodies)

‘Soft Bodies Never Sleep’ is the second compilation from Soft Bodies, a label with a diverse and open-ended roster, an approach mirrored in their club night The Electric Dog Show and this absorbing collection of music.
‘Sovereign’ by Quimper is a spooked tremulous torch song, a night ballad sung from atop a disused lock-up bathed in the orange glow of street-lamps.  With ‘The Falling King of the Oxygen Thieves’ Midwich Youth Club offer a space-prog feet-on-amps rock chugger frequently dispersing on the (solar) wind before manifesting again; losing interest in itself at the half-way point and metamorphosing into bit-crushed Nintendo-funk. A beautiful humming drone is conjured on ‘Long Enough’ By Rob Britton, chimes sparkling, synths swelling, a wave cresting in a brief beat before splashing ashore and disappearing in rivulets of sighing electronics. ‘Flea Circus’ by Gyratory System is an anarchic broken carousel of a song, close cropped reed riffs splashed with bright lurid synth strokes, maddening videogame repetition with a paradoxical louche jazz feel, cognitive dissonance in strong effect.  On ‘Cutter Street,’ Bogus Pipeline spew a frenetic punk-noise racket-rant, machine gun drum tattoo, unhinged but concisely vomitous.  This is in sharp contrast to the backwards rush of psych swirl, crisp beats, guitars, keyboards, and vocal samples wafting like sunflowers that can be found on (Episodes From) The Field Bazaar’s ‘Skywine,’ reminiscent of  Rounds-era Four Tet without the cosmic skronk. Sounding like it was recorded in its titular crawl space, Petuna Liebling MacPumpkin’s song is the aural equivalent of an eye looking out of your plug hole, a lo-fi ballad from somewhere beyond the skirting. ‘Abomination’ by Pete Murgatroyd is a shuffling velvety hammer-hip-hop mumble. ‘Help Box’ by 6&8 is the startling highlight; dizzying and hostile in large part, an aggressive mutating algorithmic ear-virus battled with calm passages of trumpeting synth blurts and mangled vocals whispering sleepy gnomic poetry; a snow-crashed brain-blast.
‘Soft Bodies Never Sleep’ is an album of oddpop emissions; inventive, lyrical, wide-ranging in tone and sound, subtle and not-so-subtle; a collection of songs charmingly and weirdly off-kilter.
‘Soft Bodies Never Sleep’ is available here.

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