Various Artists – Partials Vol. 2 (Frequency Domain)


London-based label Frequency Domain has prioritised quality over quantity in the four years that have ensued since its founding in 2015, with this latest compilation ‘Partials Vol. 2’ marking the label’s tenth release in total. The first volume of Frequency Domain’s ‘Partials’ series impressed when it dropped back in 2017, and this second volume easily matches the standards set by its predecessor, collecting together fourteen previously unavailable tracks from a predominantly UK-based cast of electronic producers.

For the most part the overriding aesthetic leans towards ambient IDM, but what’s particularly notable is the diverse range of contributions from the artist roster featured here, with some of the more recognisable names including Surgeon’s Anthony Child, Ekoplekz and Spatial. Regardless of the level of profile of the artist involved though, there’s a consistent level of quality on show here, with nothing approaching an inconsistent moment in sight.

Patrick R. Park’s ‘Another Dawn’ sets the controls for digitally sculpted dub ambience that suggests Kompakt’s similarly sheeny aesthetic, as stuttering layers of phased synths collide with skittering percussive elements and vaguely sinister arpeggiated sequences, in what’s easily one of the most ‘widescreen’ moments to be found here. Anthony Child meanwhile ventures out into eerily dark IDM structures that recall Coil more than anything else on ‘Astralinguistics 111’ as beeping analogue synth sequences wind their way against swelling bass tones, the cycling layers taking on a hypnotic feel as they loop against each other and gradually drift out of time.

Elsewhere, Plant43’s ‘Comet Chaser’ sends rippling arpeggios cycling against sparse krautock rhythms and stabbing bass swells, harking far more back towards the classic Berlin School than anything resembling post-nineties IDM, before Negra Branca’s ‘Importa’ sees them departing entirely from the electronic styles of the rest of this compilation, as delicate guitar strokes interweave with dreamy female vocal harmonies and crackling percussive murmurs. All up, ‘Partials Vol. 2’ is easily one of the most consistently strong various artists compilations I’ve heard so far this year.


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