Published May 14, 2020There is a lot to say about this record. We could, in fact, talk about it at length without ever mentioning the music itself. We won't, but we could.
There are a number of other releases in this series of non-profit albums from the label Air Texture — highlighting Ecuador, the Netherlands, Columbia and Georgia — all of which try to bring awareness to specific causes that are important to the creative community in those areas. So, Place : Vancouver not only features artists that Canadians might know, it deals with issues that they'll definitely recognize.
The compilation sides with the struggles of the Indigenous population as they fight to protect their land from an unwanted pipeline and a government hellbent on blazing through their territory. It accomplishes this by donating proceeds from the release to provide legal and logistical support to First Nations peoples. They've also partnered with Pacific Wild, a non-profit located in the Great Bear Rainforest, dedicated to defending wildlife on Canada's Pacific coast, which will also be receiving proceeds from the sales of this comp.
If either of these causes speaks to you in any way, then supporting the release is one way in which you can help.
The other facet to the record is that it's a city-specific compilation, and like any comp worth its salt, Place : Vancouver has diversity strewn all over its 20 tracks. For some, the Vancouver "sound" is often pigeon-holed to a particular brand of woozy house, but there's always been far more at play in the city, and this release is prime example of that.
If you're looking to get your nodes drenched in liquid-black techno, then the likes Queensyze, Truant and the Automatic Message have you covered. If the vast expanse of a 10-minute ambient space-walk is more up your alley, then Segue and Montane District will happily oblige. There's soft plodding dub (DJ Olive), muted drum and bass (rOhmz), and gentle acid saunters (Braue).
As you can tell, there's an awful lot to absorb here, but there are a couple of tracks that stick far out in front: Taal Mala's "The Dancers at the End of Time" is a technicolour tea party of IDM and jungle breaks that's just too much fun to not play on repeat. "Puppa" by Joel West is another clear highlight, albeit a much more restrained one. It's a delightful slow-groover, straddling the thin fence between house and techno perfectly.
There are, of course, many others. Mentioning all of them would be a bit much, but suffice to say, there are gems aplenty on here. One slight problem is that, given the sheer array of styles on Place : Vancouver, the transitions can be a tad jarring; as pounding rhythms disintegrate into ambient pools at a moment's notice, your brain might be left unsure as to what's going on. Fluidity isn't the goal here though — this about bringing awareness to certain social issues and displaying some of the fine talent that Vancouver has to offer. And in that regard, they've done a heck of a job. (Air Texture)