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Various artists

Swim Team 1

Compilations are a useful way of 'testing the water', and Swim Team 1 is no exception, especially as this 74-minute CD is on sale for the price of a CD single. As with Water Communications, the album is made up from recent, rare and new Swim tracks, and despite containing the output of nearly a dozen projects, all retain Swim's idea of 'post-everything', evading the boundaries usually erected between electronica and guitar-based rock and pop.

Here we find seminal dancefloor duo Ronnie & Clyde heading in a rockier direction than usual with Mikki Maus, while Silo offers two tunes: the undisputed classic, Templates, from Instar and a work-in-progress entitled Bulk. Both Silo tracks follow the now-familiar sound of rock riffs stripped to the bone, augmented by warm atmospherics, chugging basslines and metronome drumbeats.

Label-owners Colin Newman and Malka Spigel feature in a variety of guises. Newman offers the gritty electronica/rock hybrid Blank Canvas and the rare Newman/Corrado Izzo track The Narrativ. Spigel presents a new piece—Tall Grey Buildings—which sees her accompanying Newman towards a more 'band-like' sound, albeit a 'poppier' one. Two Immersion tracks are also present, including the excellent Dahab.

As well as showcasing recent highlights, Swim Team #1 acts as a diving board to launch label debutantes Symptoms, Steve Gears and Bumpy. Of these, Symptoms offers the best work, such as the classic Burn, which tells a musical journey in fine style, gradually introducing distorted guitar loops, relaxed background textures and overlaid fractured rhythms.

Swim wants to reach the biggest audience possible with this release and it's hard to see how it could fail to do so. Most of the tracks are great and the diversity doesn't come at the expense of a non-coherent image for the label.

Craig Grannell (March, 2000)

Cover artwork