As we shift into the second half of 2017, Feral Media arrive right on time with the sixth volume in their ongoing yearly ‘Strain Of Origin’ compilation series, and as with the preceding volume there’s a noticeably more electronic focus throughout the nine tracks collected here. While ‘Strain Of Origin V’s tracklisting saw garage and footwork influences rising to the forefront though, this latest sixth volume places the emphasis far more on hiphop-based structures, at least for its first half. In contrast, the main creative impetus behind the ‘Strain Of Origin’ series hasn’t changed, with each artist contributing a track to be remixed by one of the artists here, and in turn also remixing someone else – the equivalent of a musical round robin, or even ‘blind date’.
In truth, several of the artists here already have established connections, and as with previous volumes the results prove to be consistently diverse and compelling. Pendant’s spacious and laidback remix of Arthur Wimble’s ‘Forget’ introduces the more hiphop-centred atmospheres at play here, sending a looped male vocal rolling against a lush backdrop of sheeny ambient synths and moody bass swells while skittering off-centre beats and woodblock kicks click away in sharp-focus in the foreground. Wimble’s own reworking of Bilby’s ‘Stingray’ meanwhile kicks the pace up a few notches as call and response MC vocals arc against bright piano chords and programmed handclaps that sound like they’re itching to break into a trap shuffle at any moment.
As the tracklisting progresses, the directions explored soon diversify, though. While Rebel Yell’s remix of Lovely Head’s ‘Show Up’ offers a stomping wander through clenched-fist industrial / EBM techno that would do the likes of Terrence Fixmer proud as eerie female vocals flit like ghosts amidst buzzing powerline electronics and pressurised snares, elsewhere Bilby’s reworking of Aphlr’s ‘Deeper In’ offers up an excursion through sheeny witch-house atmospheres that sees dappled ripples of melodic texture adding a feel that’s reminiscent of The Cure’s dark pop more than anything else, the female vocals that soar above seemingly suspended in mid-air. By contrast, Tangents’ reworking of Reuben Ingall’s ‘Eyelids’ takes the deconstructionist route, slowing Ingall’s original vocals down to a digitally processed crawl as all manner of rhythmic tics build into a dense wall of jittering textures against sudden flashes of melodic colour, before vast walls of bass distortion gradually rise up to consume everything.
You can download ‘Strain Of Origin VI’ for free from https://feralmedia.bandcamp.com/album/strain-of-origin-vi