Various Critical Bandwidth

Vancouver-based independent label Rasa Records' latest release, Critical Bandwidth, enters early 21st century "no boundaries" territory with this diverse set of tunes by electronic musicians from Canada to Europe and India. The result is a heady but smooth melange of lush down-tempo grooves and energetic drum & bass. While the European contributions maintain a dark-core breakbeat minimalist sound, Vancouver's DJ Si Unyil - who does a number of tracks with Larry Lively and Fantom - adds a stylish flavour to the mood by engaging in some deep house/acid jazz rhythms in the vein of St. Germain and British duo Lamb. There is a lot of that wonderful, twang-y upturned bass and intricate percussion sounds running through it, take the German contribution from Liquid Loop, which is all about cruising slowly into down-tempo territory. ArtiCool Action, whose track "Indian Vibe (Dub Flute Solo)" is an Italy/India collaboration that definitely resonates of "fusion" masters Talvin Singh and State of Bengal in its attempt at melding Indian percussion and Karnatic flute melodies with a synthetic dance beat. But it is not only electronic music, genre-specific territory that Rasa traverses on this collection. There is an almost Sebadoh/Folk Implosion-esque track from Vancouver's Panurge. It is all lo-fi vocals, four-chord guitar riffs and sounds like indie pop venturing into electronic music terrain. Though the tracks command attention and the compilation is ambitious in the ground it covers, its compelling moments are punctuated by tracks that don't particularly stand out. DJ Si Unyil's collaborative efforts are the most promising because of the warmth in its mood and the stylish edge it has to it. Just when you think the feel is about to fade out, Steb Sly's "Taste of the Groove," with lovely Latin percussion and its hint of Jacques Lu Cont-flavoured house, kicks in and ups the mood. There are some unexpected gems in here. (Rasa)