Various Artists – Freak On!

4 out of 5

Label: VHF Records

Produced by: Various

4 tracks, 3 artists, and probably as close as you can get to a compilation on VHF Records if you’re not willing to chop things down to excerpts (which is what the other comp the label put out several years prior to this did).

Sunroof! bookend things, functioning in two modes: opener Pink Horse Sweat is a bit more rhythmic and vaguely ragga, working on a repeating tune and hazy guitar (?) lines over its 11-minutes; closer Pillow Made of Stereo is of the more blissed-out variety of Bower’s SR! stuff, allowed to burble gorgeously, with tickled notes, for 21 gloriously psyhedelic minutes. However, on both sides of the equation, this is fairly “muted” Sunroof!, and not in a bad way: all the kitchen sink sounds are tuned down a bit; it’s pretty peaceful stuff.

…Which allows Vibracathedral Orchestra’s 23-minute live cut be the louder piece of the mix, using up all of that runtime for an excellent build up of percussion and strings and noise to what sounds maybe like screaming… but mixed in to the general barrage of the group. I’d normally put VO behind Sunroof! in terms of volume and chaos, as they tend to be a bit folksier, but not here, boy-o; it’s a good swap, and this is quite a notable VO track – enough so to stand out amongst their catalogue and be worth repeat visits.

…Which makes Richard Youngs minimalist Worse Than Pug sound experiment very much the oddball, and unfortunately quite a stalled moment on the collection. Taken on its own terms, it’s definitely interesting: Youngs is functioning very sparsely here, with long stretches of silence between feedback, or tones, or taps of percussion, but if you separate it from the noisier songs on the disc, it’s very immersive. Unfortunately, it is kinda hard to do that, and so the track sort of ends up getting lost.

Bonus points for whatever weirdness is on the cover.