Various - 1st Renaissance
Released in just the nick of time to celebrate just over a year in the game, Red Dragon Records have put together this dizzying 90-minute compilation of 22 unsigned artists from both their roster and further afield. There’s an array of styles for a variety of tastes here, from the country-inflected to the metal-indebted, though the emphasis predominantly lies with the guitar-based musical dark arts. Accordingly with this breadth of sounds, the quality also ranges quite drastically; lurching from the borderline sublime to the uncomfortably ridiculous on a track-by-track basis, given its desire to act as exposure for unsigned artists, it feels cruel to stick the knife into any individual artist or the occasionally grating production.
Kicking off on a high both musically and in terms of success for the label (having been selected as one of 6 Music’s tracks of 2012) is ‘When the Sun Sets’, from The Mouth of Ghosts, a sophisticated, moody and memorable chunk of downtempo trip-hop, and subsequent peaks include the Garbage-esque dirty synth-rock of Plastique, and Bournemouth-based VLAD’s gloriously 90s fusion of distortion and melody. In short, whilst there a few tracks here you’ll be skipping within seconds of their arrival, there’s certainly a decent number of artists here that will catch your ear and reward your time if you seek them out… but you will undoubtedly need a sieve to find them.