- The Bunker is a New York techno institution with surprisingly broad roots. Bryan Kasenic, who still runs the label and the party today, threw the first event with friends at SubTonic, a no-frills venue in Manhattan. At the early parties, you might have heard breaks, techno, acid and John Denver, possibly in the same night. (According to Sattinger, one of the party's other founders, The Polar Bear Club, a predecessor to The Bunker, could be even more eclectic: "gamelan, Coltrane, Wu-Tang, UK proto-grime, breakcore.") Though it became more techno-focused over time—especially once Derek Plaslaiko was installed as a resident in 2006—The Bunker's unruly foundations survive in the kind of music now associated with the party and label. The title 15 Years Of The Bunker might suggest a history-charting collection, but instead its 26 tracks are, in the words of the label, the result of an "experiment with the immediacy of a digital-only release to provide an extremely fresh example of where The Bunker family of artists are at right now."
As a label, The Bunker has maintained the party's family ethos. Its first release, in 2014, was by Michael Hopkins, AKA Leisure Muffin, who returns here with the deft electro burner "Isoprene." Other associates such as Løt.te and zemi17 go for different approaches—crunchy electronica and gamelan-inspired minimal, respectively—that echo The Bunker's early experimental days. Abby Echiverri's "Dento Ronso" is another highlight, all twitchy, interlocking rhythms and pulses shot through with a synthwave malaise and a trancey throb. "Anita"'s ominous rattle of polyrhythms and icy strings mark out rrao as another exciting prospect.
That these tracks are among the compilation's best is noteworthy considering the other artists involved. Tin Man's "Melt Acid" is unusually fierce, trading his typically smooth melodies for a dark jack track built around a long, sustained acid note. Function's militant acid techno has a dead-eyed aim on "Norfolk Street Acid." Gunnar Haslam goes in a dubbed-out, rhythmically-dexterous direction on "Isola." Tobias Freund delivers "Impossible," one of the compilation's biggest surprises: a brilliantly executed slice of Autonomic-style half-step drum & bass.
Ectomorph's "Snake Charmer" is chilling, noirish electro with a subtle impact. The simple synth loops and cowbells of "Juice Boxx," from Justin Cudmore and Mike Servito, are tracky in all the right ways. Plaslaiko's contribution, however, is the standout. On the one hand, "Praia Da Amália" is simple, stripped-back acid, but the arp melodies and pitch-wobbling synths are a fresh and fascinating combination. You'll find a lot of those on 15 Years Of The Bunker, a diverse and unpredictable collection that shows how this New York party became a techno institution.
01. David Last - Physical Value System
02. Coward - Bend Back
03. rrao - Anita
04. Mike Servito & Justin Cudmore - Juice Boxx
05. LDY OSC. - OAO
06. Jasen Loveland - Paranoid Raver Pt. 3 (4 AM Curfew Mix)
07. J.F. Burma - Good Servant Bad Master
08. Tin Man - Melt Acid
09. Wata Igarashi - Adrenochrome
10. Mark Verbos - Meet Me There
11. Leisure Muffin - Isoprene
12. Løt.te - La Marée
13. Ectomorph - Snake Charmer
14. Abby Echiverri - Dento Ronso
15. Clay Wilson - Arado
16. zemi17 - Awera
17. Derek Plaslaiko - Praia Da Amália
18. Neel - Sima
19. Forma - MMT-H8
20. Gunnar Haslam - Isola
21. Function - Norfolk Street Acid
22. Marco Shuttle - Ewe Tech
23. Romans - Novaria
24. Tobias. - Impossible
25. Justin Cudmore - Real Shock
26. Ulysses - No Matter How Many Hashtags You Use You'll Still Die Alone