For more than twenty years now East London-based label Lo Recordings have provided a sometime home for electronic figureheads like Four Tet, Susumu Yokota and Aphex Twin, whilst continuing to pursue an ultra-eclectic approach spanning everything from IDM and ghettotech, through to lounge-exotica and synth-pop.
This latest download only compilation ‘New Shoots’ provides both a round-up of Lo’s activities during 2017 and a preview of what’s to come during 2018, and collects together tracks both previously released and new from artists on their roster including Hatchback, Body-San, World Air and SMBD. If anything, there’s a noticeable emphasis upon lush and opulent techno / house atmospheres here that fuses widescreen sonics with an occasional chillwave undertone.
Body-San’s ‘Pacific Reasons’ opts for a gliding tech-house trajectory that sends richly phased synth pads slowly arcing against digital-manipulated vocal fragments and pressurised-sounding snares, while echoing bass runs add an undertone of moody funk before evaporating into the mix. Hatchback’s previously unreleased ‘The Video Suite’ meanwhile reaches further out into glittering New Age-tinged territory as drum machine rhythms rattle beneath shimmering synth arpeggios and rippling guitar chords, the resultant fusion calling to mind some meeting point between Jan Hammer and late-eighties Tangerine Dream.
While there’s a sense of blissful nostalgia draped over many of the tracks here, Hi & Saberhagen’s ‘Rare Obi Strip’ opts for more minimalistic repetition, with warped synth harmonics adding a hypnotic feel as they cycle woozily against icy cold-wave pads and clicking drum machine rhythms. Elsewhere, SMBD’s ‘Message 045’ offers up what’s easily one of this compilation’s most intoxicating moments as dystopian vocal samples discussing themes of alienation and capitalistic enslavement get juxtaposed with those of desperate hope in the face of adversity, as buzzing synth arpeggios pulse against a lush sunset of ambient pads. As a taster for Lo’s forthcoming activities during 2018, this is quality stuff.