Isolée - Western Store
Perhaps the impetus for this collection - all these tracks were previously released on vinyl between 1997 and 2003 - was the critical acclaim that greeted the 2005 album We Are Monster. For those not up to speed, Isolée (otherwise known as Rajko Müller) could be loosely labelled as Germany's Aphex Twin. He makes electronic music with few concessions to the mainstream; any commercial moments seem more by accident than design.
Western Store, however, kicks off with two sublime tracks, which also happen to be accessible. Bleu has a blissful, dubby feel, with rolling bass and the added mystery of some foreign language (French? German? who knows?) chatter. Inititate II sounds like New Order at their most ecstatic and has an almost robotic Blue Monday style vocal.
The remainder is of less obvious appeal, the focus being on repetition and minimalism rather than ambience (see particularly King Off, which takes these qualities to the brink of a nightmare). It's futuristic but empty, with occasional exceptions. Cité Grande Terre, perhaps the most interesting, is a return to dub territory, but more fucked up this time. Then there are a couple of what might be termed - relatively speaking - dancefloor fillers: Lost and the epic Beau Mot Plage (Freeform Reform Pt. 1 & 2), which has a Latin quality (not to mention some nifty flute!), quite at odds with anything else here.
Isolée is an artful producer, the caveat being his music isn't for everyone. If you're hooked on making strange hand shapes in underground clubs, you should find much to enjoy on Western Store. For others, the first two tracks are definitely worth sampling, but may be enough.