Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Queue - Anklebiter
SCQ Rating: 74%
Few genres have adopted an online presence as keenly and prolifically as electronic has, enveloping new micro-labels and Bandcamp artists in an endless snowball effect. Of course we listeners have basked in these good tidings but, all the same, the quantity of electronic folds at work today makes it just about impossible to catch even a millisecond of every talented artist. This bittersweet reality has again caught me off-guard as I become acquainted with Anklebiter (one Tanner Volz), whose debut I Will Wait commanded some heavy praise last year. For those readers among you that missed this release, I offer two solutions: (1) stream that debut here, and (2) don’t despair, because that material is being celebrated with Queue, a lovingly compiled remix project.
Not only does Queue ward off shallow criticisms about its recycling of material by featuring an outstanding cast of remixers, it reignites Anklebiter’s primary allure: Volz’ romantic but powerful arrangements. That hard-beat bite remains intact but it’s exciting to hear what seasoned electronic musicians can wield with that sort of intensity at their disposal. SubtractiveLAD turns ‘Frigid’ into a piano-driven epic that flirts between a gauzy shoegaze extreme and Mogwai’s brittle restraint, which takes an opposite direction to Keef Baker’s stuttering rendition of the same track. Subsequent mixes by Boy Is Fiction and Irulan confirm that Queue stands by its cohesive qualities, layering chilled atmospherics over mid-tempo beat maneuvers. And did I mention that Anklebiter throws in a few new compositions to boot? Those tracks, ‘By Design’ and ‘OTT’, temporarily strip back the ambiance to bring Volz’ aggressive impetus into the forefront and prove that Anklebiter isn’t using this stop-gap release as a holiday.
Leave it to n5MD mainstays Dryft and Lights Out Asia to end the disc with covers that lend a sweeping finality; the former operating a nuanced haze over calm beats, the latter enlisting the band’s trademark style – big drums, chiming and echo-drenched guitars – to leave a lasting impression. As hinted by this couplet, Queue can be interpreted as entirely worth the price of admission based on the talented remixers alone. But beneath the familiar talent and quality control lies Anklebiter, whose songwriting voice deserves this CD-only victory lap.