8,8.5,9, Remixes

by Various Artists on FatCat Records

First point, Various Artists is not a compilation (although, confusingly, this is), it is in fact the alias of the highly-regarded, anonymous producers.

Responsible for some of the most stunning, immersive electronics of recent years, the duo have released three early 12”s and an album (‘Decay Product’) on the Chain Reaction label, plus a 12 on their own label, Din. Formed in Berlin, and operating out of the HardWax record store that (alongside the old FatCat store) has served as an ultra-hot focal point, and one of the most influential hubs of contemporary electronics, providing a prolific axis of labels.

Honoured to be granted the original tracks (the only occasion a HardWax artist has allowed anything outside of their own stable), and perceived by FatCat themselves as one of the key releases in its back catalogue, the initial ‘8, 8.5, 9’ (12FAT003; released November ‘97) formed a seriously stunning, immersive and hypnotic sound-scape. Three tracks shimmer and swell, dragging the listener on a mesmerizing journey through shifting textures and dubby effects.

Emerging a year later, a remix 12” (12FAT008) drew in an awesome array of talents to deliver four startling, varied re-interpretations. Funkstorung brought their splintering, micro-popping deconstruction to bear on track ‘9’. Autechre went against expectation to deliver a fierce track of thumping, techno-propulsion. Whilst, closer to the source, Pole and Monolake are more empathetic to the original. The former takes timbre shifts and dub basslines, veiling the original in a hazy fog; the latter suck the track into black hole of sound.

This compilation draws together those two FatCat 12”s, previously only available on vinyl. The Autechre remix is updated with a new track, exclusive to this CD. Another new mix is added from Berlin ally, Arovane (who has also recorded for Din and City Centre Offices), and a different version of Monolake’s ‘Modulo 9.5’ remix.

With a name to match their shadowy, ego-less identity, Various Artists have wished to remain, un-photographed and anonymous, instead letting the music do the talking. Track titles continue their lack of concern for external referents, simply listing their tracks as a sequential series of numbers.

Available for the first time on CD, the compilation forms what is undoubtedly one of the year’s most important electronic releases.

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