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Review

Various artists

Compilation 1

Anyone who has seen Immersion live will have noticed the act's move towards A/V becoming all the more apparent. In keeping with this idea Swim has released its first video, with around half of the hour of footage being comprised of Immersion pieces. These are joined by work from Silo, Symptoms and solo Colin Newman and Malka Spigel tracks.

It opens with Silo's Templates. Moving between grainy CCTV and bleached blue/white footage of white-garbed scientists performing some kind of risky experiment, this movie-like offering is one of the best in this selection. The layering of the near-kitsch sci-fi over one of Swim's most 'post everything' pieces of audio is curious to say the least. In keeping with the audio track, the video continually veers between the narrative and slightly obscure and is highly professional and accomplished, while also being dark and brooding.

Symptoms' Burn provides a rather more fractured approach whilst still remaining in the world of abstract narrative video. Inked images occasionally appear, breaking up fragmented texts of several stories about 'burning', seemingly from relationships to a nuclear fire. The fragmentation of the texts and video mirrors the audio extremely well.

The best of the Spigel/Newman videos is undoubtedly Colin Newman's Blank Canvas. The concept is simple but elegant and produces one of the better pieces on the compilation; a motionless figure stands with a piece of white card onto which various images and phrases are 'projected': 'what are you looking at?'; 'what you see is what you get'; and so on.

Malka Spigel's It's Odd also grabs the attention. This filmic piece sees Colin Newman and Malka Spigel as aloof 'pop stars', their pet fish appearing throughout. Stylistically, it put me very much in mind of some of Anton Corbijn's music videos, notably with its great use of black and white versus colour. It's Odd is a great pop video for the single that never was.

The bulk of the remaining pieces follow the theme of repetition and are often broken up with a rather 'painterly' approach to video. It sometimes misses the mark and ends up being somewhat like 'spliced home video'. However, Expanded Now hits the developing Immersion ethos: hypnotic audio joined by video of the same ilk. Dahab offers similarly forced framing—blurred faces and repetition—and combines them to good effect for a deliberately non-narrative approach.

A Swim video has been a long time coming and was hinted at prior to Low Impact. The addition of the solo works, along with the Silo and Symptoms videos offer some useful variation. Unlike most music videos, Compilation 1 is not a superfluous addition to the current catalogue, but a logical and impressive building block to Swim's future, particularly for Immersion.

Craig Grannell (November, 2000)

Cover artwork