- "I don't think too much about the past; I don't think too much about the future," Alessandro Adriani, who runs the Mannequin label, told me last year. He lives in the moment and follows his intuition, which is how Mannequin has evolved over the last decade. The results—a convoluted catalogue of reissues, compilations and brand-new releases—span the gamut of electronic music, from '80s synth wave up to present-day industrial techno, acid and electro. The label's range might seem confusing at first, but once you're immersed in Adriani's world it begins to make sense.
Mannequin officially started with Danza Meccanica, a compilation of '80s Italian wave music that Adriani loved but felt wasn't getting the recognition it deserved. At the time, he was living in Rome, and was engrossed in minimal synth music. Much has changed since. Adriani now lives in Berlin and has widened his musical scope, befriending several likeminded DJs along the way. Most of them appear on Waves Of The Future, Mannequin's tenth-anniversary compilation. Adriani commemorates the milestone not by looking back or forward, despite what the title implies. Instead, Waves Of The Future grounds its heels in the present to deliver "the music of now" in Adriani's orbit.
Ron Morelli and Illum Sphere's contributions apart, Waves Of The Future was made with dance floors in mind. It makes huge stylistic leaps from track to track, but aesthetically they're all united at the marrow—something that's true of the entire Mannequin catalogue. The biggest leap happens right at the start, between Silent Servant's darkwave techno and the garbled transmission from Morelli. they're almost diametrically opposed, one being pronounced, propulsive and almost poignant, the other an abstract thicket of textured noise. A gnawing neurosis is the conduit between them. Waves Of The Future is riddled with underlying pathways like this.
Beau Wanzer, Not Waving and Willie Burns offer the most compelling club fare here. "Snake And Shake" is slinky and deeply groovy. "Secret Weapon" is more colourful, like EBM bubblegum pop. "Light Far Over" is a grungy rave bomb. They're all brazenly individualistic, but fit together under the wider Mannequin arc. The best is saved for last. Illum Sphere's slow-burning "Exhaustion" is skulking Italo horror approached from a distant, reconstituted post-dubstep place, finishing with an exquisite and excruciating synth shower.
Waves Of The Future isn't the most inventive or ambitious label compilation out there. Its aim is much more straightforward. It's a sincere distillation of where Mannequin is at right now, which happens to be the centre of a liberated club movement where mood and vision are the new classifiers.
01. Silent Servant - Defiant Pose
02. Ron Morelli - Charges Won't Stick
03. Beau Wanzer - Snake And Shake
04. Shawn O'Sullivan - Ill Fit
05. Not Waving - Secret Weapon
06. An-i & Alessandro Adriani - With You
07. Willie Burns - Light Far Over
08. Illum Sphere - Exhaustion