Metatoys Vol. 1

[Metatoys sleeve] (Compilation album, 1998) !DSO Recommended!

Dune Records

Based in Firenze, Italy, "Dune is more than a bunch of blokes that make electronic music. It's a crew of producers that tries to foresee your inner beatz" says project co-ordinator Paolo Favati. Well, they've certainly found something inside me that leads me to declare this as one of the most unexpectedly exciting and successful compilations I've heard in a long, long time.

Transonia's opener Accesso Remoto is a sweeping instrumental anthem of glorious proportions. Kicking off like an intelligent dance track akin to Future Sound of London, with angelic female voices in a breeze of digital wind noises - it transforms into a pounding and cleverly agile composition. It continually builds until, after three minutes and several stops and breaks, a musical box of chimes and bells and a modulating lead synth takes your imagination onto a soaring trip. Fantastic. Otero's Lagerblumen is a dubby drum 'n bass outing with staggering drum programming and a good female lead vocal. In The Whirlpool by Wave Workers Foundation takes a sample of Depeche Mode's Told You So (from their Some Great Reward album), throws in some Martin Luther King quotes and muted bass and percussion into a cool groove with some whispered vocals. Here's Cello (featuring Martin Atkins on drums and Lydia Lunch on vocals), Goodnight by Fabba (briefly recalling Ronni Size), and Kiloton's Transfixed explore various d 'n b avenues. Each quite impressive.

Alex D. Steak and Indefatigable Neural System both take inspiration from a time when electronic music was more simple and directly expressive. DAF, Chris and Cosey and even Tik and Tok clouded my thoughts when listening to these two. The terrifically-named Weird Uncle Betty (!) use sampling, synths, and programming to create a bass guitar forced big beat-ish dance track that could take the place of Leftfield's music as the opening theme to the film Shallow Grave. The two most divergent entries are saved to the last. Manergy's I'm Beyond might appeal to fans of Machine Head or fans of the more metal side of industrial. Whilst DKEA's final BR16 III1 is undoubtedly the experimental piece of the compilation, with its stumbling percussion and disjointed guitars staggering blindly into uncharted territory.

The album was mostly recorded at the Blue Velvet studio in Firenze. Fabba features on several tracks in one role or another - from the impressive drum programming for Otero to providing bass, programming and sampling for Manergy, and there is a similar sound and style to the majority of the tracks. A very impressive compilation of contemporary electronic music that should ensure the previously ignorant (such as myself) take a closer look at Italy's Dune Records in the future. Recommended.  8/10 

Rob Dyer