Various Up Too Early

Various Up Too Early

6
This Friends of Friends compilation has a neat concept — music for the early morning — and most of the breathy, ethereal, melodic textures work well.
 
Goldmund's "Thread" opens the album with a series of overlapping, uneven piano figures, resulting in some fascinating polyrhythms. Kyson weaves together pieces of piano, voice and electronic textures for a gentle but emotional kind of musical impressionism. The alien-pop bounce of Robert Koch's "Harps at Midnight" feels whimsical and light, while Daedelus' layered samples, synths and strings create a lush and romantic sonic vista.
 
However, it seems not all the artists wrote with the same time of day in mind. Herein you'll find late-night restlessness; grey, dim early morning yawns; mid-morning brightness; and so on. Though it falls short of being truly functional as a cohesive morning listen, there are still some great songs. Jensen Sportag's "Levitation Dream" might be a bit jarring before your first coffee, but its experimental grooves are quite enjoyable later in the day.
 
The album is also buoyed by unsurprisingly high-quality contributions from Baths and Prefuse 73, though, like many compilations, there are some skippable numbers too. Tracks from Pavlov, Clive Tanaka and the Album Leaf feel a bit lacklustre, either taking too long to do anything notable or going nowhere at all.
 
While no compilation is perfect, those looking for genre-bending electronic music will want to seek out some of these artists' own albums. Anenon, Kyson and Daedelus, for example, all released remarkable albums last year, any of which might offer a better waking-up (or staying up) experience. (Friends of Friends)