various artists: The Braindance Coincidence

various artists

The Braindance Coincidence


WHAT IS IDM? Internet Direct Media? Infectious Disease Microbiology? Interessengemeinschaft der Metallgiessereien? Wrong, wrong, wrong--at least for the purposes of this review. Nope. What we're talking about is "Intelligent Dance Music," a most ungainly, highly questionable moniker (what makes music "intelligent" anyway?) that supposedly describes the sound of The Braindance Coincidence.

Although this ten-year Rephlex retrospective definitely qualifies as clever electronica, songs on The Braindance Coincidence traditionally had precious little to do with IDM. From the earliest tracks on the album--those produced when Richard D. James (a.k.a. Aphex Twin) had just started Rephlex--these "dance songs" were created first and foremost for listening. No matter how much the music borrowed from more booty-intensive styles like house, techno, hip hop, and drum 'n' bass, it was increasingly sedentary and arcane. The booty was seemingly all but forgotten in a tangle of glitches, beat-building stratagems, and an exclusive musical language as far from the American vernacular as the Basque tongue.

Yet, out of this stagnant history, The Braindance Coincidence has emerged as an eclectic group of rump-shaking tunes. From the verdant neo-exotica of the Gentle People's "Journey" to the minimalist bedroom dancehall of Ovuca's "Afternoon Girl," beats abound for every type of listener. Highlights include such disparate tracks as Leila's seductively R&B-inflected "Don't Fall Asleep," the old-school acid of Baby Ford's "Normal" (remixed by James), and the baroque drum 'n' bass of Wisconsin native Bogdan Raczynski's "Death to the Natives." The album's electro-throbber apotheosis, µ-Ziq's "Swan Vesta," even drips with the kind of sinister lasciviousness of which great spy-movie themes are made.

What do the 16 diverse selections on The Braindance Coincidence have in common, apart from lots of electrons? For one thing, the album sports a subtle DIY quality. Although the songs are more low-budget than lo-fi, the home-studio sound celebrates Rephlex's pre-Powerbook, analog origins. The resulting un-IDM-like beats can zap those booty muscles into action, even when a person is comfortably slumped at the QWERTY.