CD Review

V/A – “Primal River Valley”

By Marcus Pan

Primal River Valley“The past by way of the future,” claims this two disc set of various artists doing electronica and industrial. Latex Records offers this, and they’re pretty well known for this sort of thing – the most recent that comes to mind is Electro-Age I[1]. We begin with the bubbly opening by Mystified w/Orange County, Eden River Valley I, who also close this compilation with the final track on disc 2, Eden River Valley II. This is an instrumental to set you in the mood for Primal River Valley – it’s surreal, bubbly and has the inundated feeling of being overtaken by a swift river. Appropriate.

Asmodeus X[2] kicks us off with the chant-laced strangeness of Krishna (Weird Blue Light Mix) which continues the trend of futuristic melodies and bubbly percussion all capitulating to an unending buzz-based bass counterpoint. Grigori 3[3] comes in smoothly, slid into from the previous Krishna with an imperceptible segue. The heavier guitar-laden strains of Awakening are tempered by the continued electronic ambience. The swap of harsher male and sweeter female vocals during Jailbird’s Majestic Sacrifice is well done and memorable.

URN’s Shadow Dancer is a bit stock, but a decent attempt at melding somber goth-rock lyrics with a faster industro-electrical, if a little commonplace, vibe. Somna M. Bulist’s Invocation to Raphael (Suite Myx by Soy SOS) is very floaty and tribal, an earthy enjoyment during the otherwise futuristic stance of Primal River Valley’s disc 1 thus far. After this we effortlessly slide the angelic vocals of Hungry Lucy[4] with the tribal and earthy flavor as we move to the seventh track, In the Circle. I enjoy this one immensely.

The seven minute plus Martyr from Seventh Image starts annoyingly loud following the smooth rhythms of Invocation to Raphael and In the Circle. Much more ambient-experimental, it opens with boorishly laden windy chord progressions that go nowhere of importance. It gets a bit more interesting in a spacey sort of way by slipping some unexpected Kraftwerkian electro-gibbers combined with deep resonating male vocals and squiggly fast moving waves of tone that at once shocks you and surprises you out of the lower down reminiscence begun by Somna. At 7+ minutes, I would think cutting the first two minutes of Martyr just for the stroppily fast paced fun parts a good idea without losing much of the movement.

The sample-laden Jackal Head by Kali Yuga comes next with its cliché laden vocals and muddy movements of common placed melodic procession. I find myself unimpressed, before we move into a HeadAche[5] remix of Silvercord’s[6] Autopilot, a drum’n’bass barrage laid against the swirly vocals of Silvercord’s original. Disc 1 closes with Fallen by Container. Surreal morbid male vocals with surrounding piano movements, it’s middling but interesting.

Disc 2 of Primal River Valley brings us seventeen tracks to the first’s eleven. Opening with Container’s Finding a River, this track has a very disconcerting feel about it with its ghostly vocals though lasts barely over a minute. Then Nila by Solace continues the surreal trend with ghostly melodies and synthetic movements. We next step to one of the few tracks here over five minutes in length – Teotihuacan. It has a growing feeling as it begins, but seems to lack direction though makers Flint Glass grow a strange and surreal tribal rhythm into it that gets a bit d’n’b. Very trippy. Cryptomnesia’s Daimonic Shadows keeps a similar ghostly vibe, but the rhythm comes out more on top. Thus far throughout disc 2 we’re finding the journey enjoyable, but not overwhelmingly so.

It seems that disc 2, more at the outset, is much more trippy and tribal than the first. Shidoshi’s Seven Veils actually seems to start a bit before the end of track 4, with its chanting monks sliding in. As it rolls into itself we’re finding the excitement that was missing from the previous 5, as beats pick up and complicated rhythms loop and jig. A very trance-laden track that would be brilliant at just about any rave I’ve been to. Dreamside keeps up the pace and remains dreamy, adding female vocals to the mix with Goddesses. Elektronika’s[7] Darkness comes next with its more industrial methods and sweet female vocals.

I was happy to come across Anguisette’s[8] Spherical as we move through disc 2 – Jyri Glynn’s violins have always been a personal favorite. Spherical was a highlight to their demo and it sounds brilliant here. Cruxshadows[9] was a surprising find here, with their strong and moving East selection. This is a track that speeds things up and borders on the surreal and tribal effortlessly, using bolstering male vocals to ground the track while female voices coalesce above against weird back and forth rhythms and stabbing synth lines. A definite highlight to the entire two disc set.

Human Shame by Ashes Adryft, which follows the stompy Cruxshadows number, seems to settle in effortlessly after, segueing nicely and giving a DJ-done feel to the track line-up. By Divine Eye by Lex Decimate we’ve left behind the dreamy landscape and went factory-driven with a stronger and older school industrial sound. Primal River Valley closes with another short, bubbly and breathy selection from Mystified w/Orange County, Eden River Valley II.

The end result is that Primal River Valley is your standard compilation. There’s a handful of really good ones such as notables Anguisette, Elektronika, Cruxshadows and Hungry Lucy. There’s a lot of so-so ones, and there’s a handful of tracks I wouldn’t refer to at all. But that’s the deal with most compilations anyway – hit or miss as we play through them. Some stroppy yummy industrial mixed a bit with futuristic trance and a bit of tribal sensibilities, it’s not a bad collection, but we probably could have done a lot of clean-up and came out with just one CD rather than two.

Contact Information:
Latex Records
Post: 5857 Brookstone Walk, Acworth, GA, 30101-8473, USA
[1] Reviewed in Legends #145.
[2] Their latest, Morningstar, was reviewed in Legends #147.
[3] We reviewed Grigori 3’s demo back in Legends #125.
[4] For a review of Hungry Lucy’s Glo release, turn to Legends #134.
[5] Headache’s Fully Automated remix CD was recently written up in Legends #155.
[6] Quite some time ago, in Legends #109, we reviewed Swan on a Black Sea.
[7] Elektronika’s Night & Day was reviewed in Legends #151.
[8] No album yet, but Anguisette’s demo was written up in Legends #149.
[9] Their Mystery of the Whisper was reviewed in Legends #100.