Cache 2001 is a compilation disc with a difference. Rather than many labels’ “here’s some of our artists and their friends” approaches, this disc is a collection of works that were submitted to the Canadian Electroacoustic Community for inclusion in their JTTP project and competition. Moreover, they’re the cream of submissions, having been winnowed by an international jury that met via the web to decide what was worth including. This is, truly, cutting-edge stuff.
The music on offer here is superbly atmospheric. Nicolas Basque’s album-opener has some Atari-sounding beats that give an impression of time blurred, before giving way to what sounds like a flock of angry ducks. Guillaume Coutu-Dumont’s Arianne Secret is a soundtrack to a whispering gallery: half-heard whispers and a hissing suggesting a kettle or an overworked boiler create spy-images and mystery that’s matched by the remainder of the track’s Neubautenesque circular noisemaking. Robin Davies’ contribution sounds like a psychotic’s version of Pink Floyd’s Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast — all Angel Heart menace and running-on-stones urgency. This is just a sample — the rest of the compositions are equally accomplished, making it hard to choose between them. Indeed, Cache 2001 has a sense of flow that’s unexpected in a compilation format.
Each piece is at least four minutes long, so there’s plenty of time to be absorbed into the worlds they create. For the most part, the subtlety and just-off-station tuning that seems present in some other artists’ works is present here. There are hints of things unsaid, vaguely-machinistic sounds that echo across landscapes with steam-pressed tension. As a portrait of modern life, the disc is terrifying, with only Martin Marier’s Matmos-like Avec ou sans parapluie lightening the mood.
What makes Cache 2001 more enthralling is the idea that all of the works here were, initially, designed for performance, not recording. The pieces were composed with live, concert-hall renditions in mind, and it’s intriguing to imagine exactly how some of these pieces would be played in public, without recourse to extensive preparation time and cut-and-paste technological solutions. This, perhaps, is what sets the pieces here apart from other electroacoustic or experimental discs I’ve heard: there’s no sense of chopping-for-chopping’s-sake. It’s natural, no matter how stuttered the tracks may become through evolution, whatever’s here makes sense.
If you’re looking to see where the next generation of electroacoustic composers are headed, then Cache 2001 is your disc. The possibilities suggested by this material are breathtaking.