- What is a selector, exactly? You'd be forgiven for finding the term a bit pretentious. After all, how are we to distinguish between DJs and this other, presumably higher breed? It could be that while DJs merely mix club tracks, selectors present precious artifacts sourced from dollar bins around the globe (or on Discogs for loads of money). DJs have record collections; selectors have vinyl archives—subterranean humidors, one imagines, with not one piece of vinyl below VG+ condition. Picture a young Seymour from Ghost World, but instead of blues he's into funk, soul, house and Italo.
All jokes aside, "selector" is a term du jour thanks to Dekmantel's festival and compilation series by that name, and while I haven't been to the festival, the compilations make a strong case for the quasi-art form being totally legit. Motor City Drum Ensemble's Selectors 001 showed how, even without mixing, the act of simply presenting music has ample room for artistic expression. Selectors 002 does the same thing for Marco Sterk, AKA Young Marco. By putting the right records in the right order, Sterk gives us a tour of his cartoonish sound world, as vivid and dynamic as any of his mixes or productions.
Sterk says he didn't want Selectors 002 to be all about "holy grail" records. Instead, he aimed to highlight scenes and eras typically overlooked by collectors. He starts with the roots of his own scene—that is, Dutch electronic music. The opening track comes from Danny Boy, a not-quite one-hit-wonder who gave the world its first attempt at Dutch rap. "Diskomix (Disko Version)," a cut of neon-tinted electro, is infinitely better. In 1989, the obscure artist Gerrit Hoekema and Dutch duo The Force Dimension both appeared on a compilation called Встреча 1. Here they share sleeve space again with Hoekema's "Televisiewereld," a bubbling cut of left-field synth pop, and a rare extended mix of The Force Dimension's "200FA." "Hard to bracket this track into a style," said one Discogs user about the latter. "Is it an early techno track or simply a classic slow-mo EBM moment?" Much of the music here exists in this kind of liminal space.
The rest of Sterk's choices come from Europe and the US. "Dolphin Dream" is the opening track from Larry Heard's 1994 album, Sceneries Not Songs, Volume One, a bold foray into chill-out that was misunderstood at the time but fetishized today. "Swizzle" is a DayGlo synth workout by Ghostwriters, AKA Jeff Cain and Charles Cohen, recorded, according to the original record's liner notes, "in the childhood home of D. Buchla." Green Baize's "Spick And Span" is drawn in the kind of exquisitely dated synth sounds Sterk understandably loves. "Mariopaint," by Irdial Discs boss Akin Fernandez, comes from a compilation of songs recorded on a Super Famicom running the Mario Paint music sequencer.
Most of these tracks fit into the same glistening, retro-futuristic aesthetic, but there are outliers, too. "Whirr," from the Ohio producer Frank Youngwerth, is an early '90s house track with a flavor both ghostly and Balearic. Wolf Müller, the contemporary German artist, appears with "Pfad Des Windes," a previously unreleased track whose Orientalist melody would sound garishly out of place in more modern settings. The compilation finishes with a question mark: "Objects In Mirrors" by Personal FX, a track about which nothing is known, and whose gentle beat and ascending synth lines could come from any stretch of the last three decades.
It's titillating to think that such great music can exist in obscurity, and in this sense, Selectors 002 shows why digging for records is so addictive. The history of recorded music is a body of content far too vast for any one person to behold, even within a given genre. This means that, for anyone with the patience and the will, there is always more to discover, and so much to choose from that, by merely selecting your favorites, you can convey your singular vibe or aesthetic about as well as you could with original music. The world of record digging can seem exclusive and even snooty, what with all the $500 cassettes and what not. But by giving us a share of the spoils (in mint condition, no less) Selectors shows it can also be about something much more humble: finding great music and sharing it with others.
01. Danny Boy - Diskomix (Disko Version)
02. Gerrit Hoekema - Televisiewereld
03. Ghostwriters - Swizzle
04. Larry Heard - Dolphin Dream
05. Wolf Müller - Pfad Des Windes
06. The Force Dimension - 200 FA (Extended Mix)
07. Frank Youngwerth - Whirr
08. Green Baize - Spick and Span
09. Ray Tracing - Mariopaint
10. Personal FX - Objects In Mirrors