The stark, rattling percussion and morbid howls into the ether of ‘Theme 7’ signal not just the return of NAAAHHH but kick start Alter’s fiftieth release with suspense. ALERT dredges the depths of grimy UK bedroom studios, old computer hard-drives and budget lager-soaked gallery sonics in search of presenting a unifying vision of a particular brand of the here and now. Label associates Chain of Flowers take us deep into hypnotic motorik territory, whilst similarly driving new work from Teresa Winter shows a more frantic side to her productions than last year’s LP for Death of Rave. The underground sound of puddle country shines through with contributions from anarcho sample-mulch legends Cru Servers and Night School mastermind Apostille. Fellow Glasgow-based Helena Celle delivers an old-school jack trax style rhythm work out alongside The Modern Institute trying their hand at deranged happy hardcore and the finest Mancunian ambient you’ll hear all year from Space Afrika. One of the most enthralling moments comes from Raime side project Moin, a claustrophobic, tempo-disregarding marriage of sound that makes us feel like we’re lost at sea and seconds away from drowning. Positively unholy.
Each piece on ALERT is bound by a distinctly punk attitude, a form of experimentalism that skirts across genre markers and forces you to sit up and pay attention. Zero coffee house easy listening or functionality here – there’s metallic clanging, skittering drums and screeches, tough as nails gabber compression (check the Acolytes track ‘Feelings’) and dirgey guitar feedback all fighting for space in a surprisingly coherent manner. Sound artist and broadcaster Mark Vernon’s ‘The Object Invoked…’ lulls us into quintessentially British, nightmare-inducing radiophonic territories with terrifying fragmented media chatter, making for one of the highlights of the compilation. If anything, we can agree on the fact that this double LP stands to highlight the fringes of carefree, convention defying abstract electronics that currently permeate our little island in an illuminating and necessary way.
ALT50 —Released 19 April 2019