Lofi Electronic Pop Music (2000)

10" V/A Compilation - Irritant Records

Short description of release: London-based label releases compilation of IDM music, featuring a German, a woman, a Canadian, Skanfrom, and two artists who only released like one song, and were never heard from again, not even once.

Stupid shit on my mind: This incredibly bad PSA.


Compilations are somewhat of an interesting type of release. They have some different types, you know, one of the most common being just a compilation of an artist's popular hits, or early catalogue (that now goes for the price of a kidney on eBay,) or a compilation with various artists. Those, I would guess, are the second most common kind. They provide an interesting experience, because you get more artists for your buck, and you can kind of hear some different styles between the bands. I've ought to find some more obscure V/a compilations to review since I have a new-found interest in trying to find just really weird shit. This compilation isn't like "polka-noise-folk-whiteboyemo" weird, but it's got some oddities.

I couldn't tell you how exactly I found it, but I think it's a high chance that it was either through Soulseeking or Discogs-bashing. It caught my eye, with its name, "Lofi Electronic Pop Music", which kinda gives you some mild expectations, especially with like "lo-fi" in the title if you haven't listened to a lick of IDM, which I think this compilation falls under pretty well. It was released by a label called Irritant, which after taking a quick peek at, makes me think I'll certainly revisit it in the future. So, the structure is simple. You have all that silly stuff in the beginning, then the real meat is a track-by-track review, then a final thoughts with some trivia if I find any.

Track-by-Track Rundown

A1 - Frederik Schikowski: Der Eremit

This track opens the A side, at its short 2:01 minute length. It doesn't have a whole lot to it, the instrumental being an uptempo AdLib/Sound Blaster (so FM synthesis, basically) beat, with, I don't know, circus-y instruments? I don't mean to sound tired, I'm not, I'm very in the mood for reviewing this, but I try to avoid like just describing the sounds. Which is hard. Because that's what I know best. The genre I'd say this falls in is probably NDW, literally translated as New German Wave. (I've listened to a bit recently, so it's on my mind. Plus this dude is German.) Very quickly in the song (11 seconds), you get whom I presume is Frederik Schikowski singing some stuff in German in a timid, mid-range voice. There's sort of a (probably unintended) sense of urgency/worry in the song, maybe that's the plucky offbeat line. With the song's last 20 seconds, he does a key-change, then fades it out. All in all, it's a very nice opener to the album, fitting with the whole "pop" thing. I've listened to this over and over in the past few days. (Anyone know what the hell he's saying, in English?)

A2 - Knifehandchop: Sunjammer is my favorite Pokemon trainer

A complete switchup from the last song (and 20 seconds shorter!), we get this stupid-ass track from the Canadian guy. I don't mean stupid in like a rude way, more in a "this is a song you need to get absolutely buzzed to"-way. The main elements are:

-uncleared DMX samples
-a weird plucky bassline

If you're confused, that last element was at the last 20 seconds of the song, and it's supposed to represent a distorted kick drum.) Kind of a fun track, I could see myself in the future maybe playing this at some sort of house party, presuming everything else heard was drunk, psychotic karaoke (think something along the lines of death metal screaming and the Literal Video version of "Total Eclipse Of The Heart"). I'm sure that the drum samples are probably from a DMX, but I wouldn't know nor do I care.

A3 - Plusminusnull: Ich Weiß Nicht Zu Wem Ich Gehöre

This is one of the two artists I mentioned who pretty much only did this compilation and nothing else. Plusminusnull also contributed to another V/a compilation, dubbed "Korsika Kollektion", with a really fucking weird cover. I'll have to check that one out too, sometime. This track also switches total direction from the last one, it being a laidback, downtempo song with vocals in some? language. (Gonna be honset, presuming German). At around a minute, the drums come in and really make this track get dope. They're not like, complex or anything, but they got this cool rhythm, y'know? You sort of just want to bump it in a Cadillac with hot fat chicks during a Mexican sunset. At 1:55, we get this cool switch to some different drums and synths for a few moments. If I had to describe the main synth of this song with some kind of crazy sentence, it'd be "Rub at the bat with an organ, mama." I'll go ahead and mention this now, the distributed rip of this compilation on Soulseek has vinyl crackle. That wouldn't be so annoying if it wasn't prevalent over the entire thing. It's kind of distracting at points, but I accept it (I guess). It's kinda hard to review chill tracks like this because they don't tend to have a lot going on, y'know? They're chill.
Good song, all in all.

A4 - Skanfrom: VL-1 Tone

Okay, this one has the most annoying vinyl issues. I'm 98% that it pops *and* skips in the beginning. Onto the song, and well, I have to be honest. It's a biiiit weak. The title is a somewhat obvious reference to the Casio VL-Tone, though I don't know if it's really in this song. This pumps up the tempo to around 120 or so, being much more classic IDM in a way. (Love those sharp notes!) The intro kinda takes a while, which is not a huge turn-off, but it is *still* a turn-off, at least for me.
There's a nice melody, a lot of the same laser sound effect, though it's not necessarily a bother. There's not much to say in a way, but the song sort of goes downhill after 3:20, meaning the main meat is only 2:56 long. That's not a bad thing, but you're left with just a minute of random noise fuckery combined with a cool-sounding text to speech voice saying "Skanfrom" over and over. But there's worse out there. This track is fine. It's just alright, really.

That's where the A side ends, with it being around 14 minutes long total. All in all, I'd say the A side is pretty good, even if it gets a bit tired with VL-1 Tone. The B side is a minute shorter, at 13:13, and has one more track than the A side.

B1 - Skanfrom: Ants II

This gets the award of being the shortest track to talk about, and being the hardest to talk about, too. It's very simple, the elements are just a beat, bass, strings, and a somewhat annoying pitch-swirling sawtooth. It goes by surprisingly fast, not leaving much of an impression. I still think I should fill this space, so I'll just write some dumb shit.
You ever have like a favorite toothpaste? I'd say mine is like a mint one, but I've gotten used to the Arm & Hammer tubes, since we've being mostly getting those. PeroxiClean is really weird, right? It's kind of like... mildly minty, but not in a good way. More like mouthwash mint. But worse, somehow. I can't say I've used mouthwash much. I'm not even necessarily sure what its purpose is! Like, do you just chug it, swish it in your mouth, then spit it out? What even needs cleaning in there? Why is mint the most common flavor with these things? Gum, too! Why is mint-flavored gum so popular? Huh??

B2 - Printed Circuit: Getting To The Moon

Finally, one of the highlights of the compilation. This song is by the only lady on the comp, (Plusminusnull could be one too, but they have no information on them at all, so...) a girl named Printed Circuit, real name Claire Broadley. This seems to be one of her earliest-published tracks as well, so that's neat. "Getting To The Moon" is this neat almost 4-minute synthpoppy breakbeat track, with the most obnoxiously catchy basslines and melodies in existence. I love it so much. The main break, if I'm correct, is from Kurtis Blow's "Do The Do", coming in at around 35 seconds, same time when the first melody comes in and god, it's hard to talk about this song without just gushing over it. I love it so much! It's stupidly charming and it feels quite innocent and childish, like a bunch of crayon cartoon cats going to the moon. The bridge that starts at 1:55 is also quite dope, introducing some less dissonant lines, the favorite being the just "nah-nah-nah-nahnah-nah-nah-nah" that sounds like the more emo crayon cartoon cat. Then, it goes back to the main section, and finishes up. All in all, a great song, and one I wish I had a perfectly clean version of. If there's one criticism I have, it's that the drums are put more in the background than I would personally prefer, but I guess the synth lines are the main focus here.

B3 - Frederik Schikowski: Eine Ahnung

Another one by the German dude, and it sort of is similar to the Skanfrom tracks in that it's kind of weak. In this case, it's more that it had to precede what I consider a HUGE highlight of this compilation. It's a more catchy, happy-go-lucky track, with the same FM backings. No vocals this time, however. I guess part of it being weaker in comparison to his other song on this compilation, is that it's stupid in the same way that A2 was, but you don't have any real humor in it, unlike A2, which had the funny DMX samples to add to it. Plus, it ends with a fadeout, which isn't necessarily bad, but yeah this one was a bit too long.

B4 - Knifehandchop and Md145: Vertical

It is a bit sad how this song puts a good amount of this compilation to shame, y'know? Like all of these tracks are good, but this one knocks everything except A1 and B2 out a' the water. Vertical is this weird hip-hop track with some ragga vocals and a pretty simple triplet beat. And yet, it's executed quite amazingly. The basslines are deliciously menacing, and it gets you pumped quite a bit. Quite the catchy tune, and its 3 minute length combined with it being quite simple and grounded in normalcy makes it one of the most accessible tracks on this compilation. I am having a bit of trouble writing more a substantial review at this point, since we're close to the closer of the B side and the compilation as a whole. Sound-wise, the first bassline is this staccato wump, with the main line being a held, ascending but soft rumble. If you get this record and you DJ, keep this one in mind.

B5 - Autoskooter: This Is...

Autoskooter is the other artist that didn't really do anything after this, but unlike Plusminusnull, this is their *only* track, and it was already released on a German cassette compilation. This song can be summed up in a few key words.

64kbps disco song about lo-fi booty shaking

It's quite funny, and actually *very* groovy. It might be because of the lyrics, but it probably would make one shake their booty on the floor tonight. But it ends in a fadeout, and thus, the compilation ends a mildly low note. A very groovy low note, but a low note nonetheless.


So, final thoughts on this compilation. It has its ups and downs, which is normal of all compilations, though a bit worse here if only because it's just nine tracks. But it sort of lives up to its name, doesn't it? It's catchy, like most popular music, and it's very DIY. There's sort of a mystique here, just that one day, the label owner thought of this idea, some artists got on it, and then, boom! This compilation was released on 10 inch vinyl. Why 10 inch vinyl? I have no idea. All in all, I give it a seven out of ten (7/10). Great, higher than average, but has some low points that bring it down.
Now it's trivia time!
I don't really have much trivia, only one piece actually, but it is quite interesting.
So, the opening track, "Der Eremit", right? It seemed like this was released here but that might actually not be the case based on the YouTube upload. Now, I can't confirm this, but it seems like it was recorded in 1994 or before, and released on a 1994 compilation of mildly local bands of Meckenheimer called Uftata, but that compilation isn't on Discogs. So, is it real? I personally think it is, it doesn't seem fake plus it's *definitely* a real track. Why it's not on Discogs though, I don't understand.

-Fonix (8/27/2021)

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