REVIEW: V/A – “QFG: A Compilation”

By Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Chain Border

QFGThere are very few artists or labels who can justify releasing double-disc sets outside of greatest hits anthologies. Prince did it many times with his Hits and B-Sides tri-pack, the three-piece epic, Emancipation, and then with his important retrospective of previously unreleased material, the quadruple disc Crystal Ball. The latter being the best, and arguably the most justifiable. The point is, whether you like him or not, Prince is a modern rock and funk genius whose status and prowess allows him such luxury as to release multi-pack albums.

Compilations in multi-disc format are normally suspect and sketchy and are usually confined to double-discs when a label dares attempt such a thing. The Warped Tour compilations are fine examples of putting this overloaded format to good use, but then consider the venue they're based upon. They serve not only as mementos of the thirty-plus bands who hike on that tour, but also serve as effective marketing tools to what's hot and notable in the punk rock genre. Parametric's QFG: A Compilation could be disputed as a global marketing tool for the genre it supports (in this case coldwave electronica), or it could be construed as a worldwide sampler and blueprint to what's going on in the way of theory and construct to the aforementioned genre.

WordThree CDs full of coldwave...that's a bit much to absorb unless you're a devotee of the genre, which makes such a project one's idea of digital nirvana. QFG: A Compilation is a counterrevolution to postmodernism that rewrites the rules of industrial-based coldwave, a world-savvy anthology that has the ability to surprise as it does to ingratiate with new and diverse schools of thought to an already tapped medium from the forty-five artists represented, most of them based in the label's homeland of France. A word of warning, though: some artists, particularly on the second disc, will stand at the helm with tight knuckles, waiting to steer a listener off-course from any point of sensibility in their abstract-realized mind (and ear) blasts of intentional hedonism. Whatever one might know of coldwave as it exists in America, be it from Recant or Miscreant, be ready; QFG will challenge you. It is sure to delight on certain aspects, and depending on the open-mindedness and patience of the listener, is likewise sure to horrify and annoy.

The first disc, simply marked Q, will remind often of Wax Trax, particularly with Flint Glass' Germ Code, with its fuzzy and gritty beat that is abstract but cohesive, to Ab Ovo's Eddy B. Rmx, which has a cool, rocksteady industrial groove that is dancy for the most part. Other highlights on the first disc are NKL's Unfunk, which has a savory hip hop beat underscored by a magnetic bass vibration and coarse but sensible crash programming as it strips its urban funk base with its industrial resonance. Morthem Vlade Art's Sleuth is unconventional with its scratch/hammer beat, but it jives with agreeable key melodies and in the end becomes catchy as all hell. Mlada Fronta's Contrast features a tribal rhythm between its digital beat grind, which has relaxing and ambient syncopation, a good realization of technique. Shizuka's Tetsuo has a great rhythm and twinkling melody that ultimately succumbs to a dark finale. Nimp's L'Homme Qui N'Existait Pas is somber, ethereal and loping coldwave that somehow rings erotic, while Oil 10's To the South has a darkwave march tempo that tinkers playfully with subtle synth tweaks amidst its industrial foundations. The stripped digital beat feels like it (as well as the listener) gets zapped at every turn, but somehow the track still works.

On the other hand, some promising tracks end up being minor disappointments, like Pilonaa's Gouache, which has a cool drum and bass effect with just a little more to offer with sparkling synth work and slick programming, but it ends up being marred by interference from its background cacophony. The concept works to a degree, yet it is undermined by the needless screeching effect, needless unless you're the artist. Gom's Hype is cold and harrowing coldwave and benefits from a clanging and engaging beat, but the structure is calculatedly abrasive as it demanufactures into a garbled morass. Mimetic's 2002 is very promising, but ends up being little more than a tease with its shifting beats that constantly suggest a payoff that is delivered a bit too late. This song is more an exercise in beat theory with its transparent synths which are more or less a formality and in the end, distracting. Haiku's 1 is pretty much the same thing, a drab synth track with drum and bass exploration and unfortunately, it is not as interesting. DJ Enthrall's Black Eggs is trip hop with traditional DJ mix elements, nothing cutting edge, but enjoyable enough with its medium-paced grind. Rabbits/Sorrow has a pretty decent ambient track, Rain on Mollon, with its coldwave trance that leaves a stupefying yet pleasant effect.

WordDisc F is the trouble spot of the collection. A few sterling efforts need to be acknowledged, such as We Are Gentlemen's Cherry Pie (not to be confused in any way with Warrant), with its serene electronica based upon a humming ambience note and layered with luxuriant synths and Pink-Floyd-like substances. Celluloid Mata's Hec.Riv saves this disc entirely from the sour tone it ultimately sets with its jazzy and speedy drum mix amidst the spurting coldwave that is for once, tastefully executed instead of gratuitously heaped as in the case of many of the other artists on Disc F. Apophasis' Et Nox Facta Est has a hollow synth clang that rings like a calming church bell as the track takes a spooky overture until a solid beat usurps control at the two-minute mark, making it a more concrete industrial track.

Ultra Milkmaids' Pleure, is an organic, seventies-oriented pleasure trip with its jazz fusion stylizing and interspersed nature sounds that eventually lose themselves and settles into a sensual rhythm. Mid&Ric's Sherman Release is not too far away in structure from GTO's The Bullfrog, with its steady, burping bass and drum effect that has more sway and sexuality than its predecessor. Tin.Rp's D.I.N. is noteworthy only for its scat tempo, which is fairly ingenious, considering the darkwave that engulfs it and pointlessly numbs the listener, as does the ensuing track, Zonk't's Soft in the Middle.

Unfortunately, putting these songs aside (which alone would make an outstanding EP), the remainder of the disc is one sorry excuse after another, particularly the four tracks preceding the final song that make the jumbled slop between Slipknot songs far cooler and more tolerable. Audioside's Quelque Soit Le Regime could be complimented at first by calling to mind the delicious textures of Air, yet Audioside immediately plunders themselves with violent garbling that makes the average listener want to hate it instantly, but something beneath is oddly satisfying and one ends up digging the track, that is, until the following three tracks kill the spirit. Margrave Ruediger's White Waterlily is guaranteed to induce a headache with its numbing madness and barely discernable melody. Such's Isotope-H features brutal scrape-slide coldwave that is ripped further apart by note hammering and splitting that has no mercy upon the ears. In layman's terms, this is shit, and it's irresponsible.

De Mange Machine's La Meme Indifference Qu'il Temoignait Envers Toutes Choses is further fecklessness with its sludgy abrasion and nerve-shattering debauchery that is satanic, and though it seeks to redeem itself in the mid-portion of the track one is likely in too much pain and therefore cares less. Trombone's Fanfare Mecanique calls a halt to the lunacy with its righteous beat and simplistic keyboard medley that is interchanged with its step-toe beats. Unfortunate for Trombone to be placed last on the disc; the spot is rather cruel, assuming one has made it past Frederic Nogray's Beat Regulier A 200 HZ Pres, which fools the listener by sounding like a Frankie Bones dance thumper, but becomes an amplified stress test like a heart working its way towards cardiac arrest. Using this metaphor, Nogray's punishing track is a warped game of Can You Take It at a grueling 6:35. The question is, can the listener take this disc at all?

WordDisc G is far more pleasing to the ears with its many varied club/house/trance/acid-themed songs that kind of drifts off in the middle, but returns suitably to avoid a sense of apoplexy. Milligramme's Intestines is a slick, hard fuzzcore jam like a Prodigy remix, while Lith's Rupture is tomahawked with a bass-laden, scrappy coldwave sensibility, a tribal tempo that is well-engineered, and, crazily enough, is great to watch a softcore porn flick on mute to. Rudra Vena's Produit is flat-out awesome with its rapid-fire jungle rhythm executed with sharp precision. Morphoex's Cobaye has a steady bass and drum line that is torn here and there with miscellaneous racket, yet it remains a cool industrial grinder. Komplex's Le Sens Des Nuances is a standard bass-oriented track with more than a few nods towards Skinny Puppy, while Zerogoki's Layer 1 Weird has an interesting rat-a-tat tweak to its old school beat, often sending it through hyperspeed.

Remain Silent's Introversion Part 4 has a seductive trance grind that builds towards a nice climax, also good for softcore, considering the sex scenes are normally over with in the span of a couple of minutes. Have fun trying to time this track to your favorite Skinemax flick; it's a guaranteed blast. Punish Yourself vs. The Cult Movie Memorial (great name) tones the tempo way down with Khalifa/Replacement for Anything which is sleepy, whispery, chafy and subversive. Vassalfada's I am Between is more like I am on the outside and slowly fluttering away, with its shuffle-slide hisses that dissipates before one realizes the track was even there.

WordMacrocoma's Soleil has a pulsing tempo with ambience and random coldwave, while Sensory Mindfield's AKA IV+ (another great name) picks things back up with Strange Noise, a drum and bass slammer with great tempo and urban grittiness. J213's S6ST has an action-packed undercurrent to its drum and bass beatstream, while Le Son De Convergence's Verrou is, alas, a cocktease with its continuously interrupted beat, too experimental for its own good as it warps and zaps itself into sheer boredom. Stelladrine's Steampunque is what the title implies; hardcore industrial with a clackety conundrum of punk-minded attitude. Mourmansk150 finishes the things with Poussiere, which boasts nasty coldwave with an assertive bass and punishing static with a voice incognito designed to lend the track some texture, but actually leave a blah feeling about it. Not quite the way this overly long collection needed to end, but then again, for many listeners, Poussiere would be a more than appropriate closer.

At twenty U.S. dollars, QFG: A Compilation is probably a worthwhile investment for three-and-a-half hours worth of material. The question one needs to ask is this: can a listener hack the brutality of the second disc and be satisfied with only two? On the other hand, QFG is not necessarily fan-oriented, it's musician and artist-oriented. Students trying to master the ambience/electronica/industrial genre would do rather well to pick up this collection, if for nothing else but to learn what's going on in the world and who's doing what. Because let's face it, it's a large, musical world and this oddity of a subgenre known as coldwave is quickly becoming cultivated to death. Perhaps there is further to go, perhaps not. If one wants a broad overview of the genre, however, QFG will undoubtedly serve him or her well. For the average listener, there's always Erotic Obsessions Part 14 to watch it with.

Contact Information:
Post: Parametric, 9 Rude Du Palais de Justice, 06130, Grasse, France Phone: +33 492 609 871

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