Various Artists - Return to the Center

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  • Return to the Center is, like so many other notable compilations this year, not just another hodgepodge collection. Basically an album-length expansion of the 61 Center Returning series of various artists EPs released by Peter Van Hoesen's Time 2 Express label, it has a coherency and a narrative sorely lacked by other label profiles. In fact, given that almost every track has Hoesen's hand buried somewhere inside, Return to the Center is almost a collaborative and collectivized follow-up to his excellent debut album from last year. Look closer at the credits and you'll see why: there's Peter Van Hoesen, of course, and like-minded producers like Iori and SP-X. But there's also Object, Hoesen's ambient project, Sendai, Hoesen's collaboration with Yves De May, and two inspired match-ups with Donato Dozzy. The label head's domination turns out to be the disc's strongest point. The appearances from Object are the album's clever key, short bursts of rhythmic static and fuzz that glue the longer techno workouts together, a simple but effective ebb and flow that increases the compilation's listenability tenfold. Some of those aforementioned workouts are familiar, like Hoesen's solo stormtrooper march "Hope In Honesterror" or the fabulous collaboration between underdogs Iori and Tr nch "Barreleye," which is about as explosive as its title suggests. Lucy's remix of Hoesen album track "Defense against the Self" also makes an appearance, immersing the cerebral and exploratory qualities of his recent output in the gritty gruel that coats most of Hoesen's material. That sort of tarnished beauty defines Return to the Center as a whole, particularly in the more tangled and fussy tracks like Sendai's "System Policy Variant" or Temporary's "Blue Box." This is real warehouse stuff, and it sounds like a warehouse: mottled grey concrete fractured at the stress points, dirty and scuffed, and impossibly, overwhelmingly expansive.
  • Tracklist
      01. Object - 113 02. Sendai - System Policy Variant 03. Tr nch & IORI - Barreleye 04. Sendai - Below K-pun One (Peter Van Hoesen Remix) 05. Peter Van Hoesen & Donato Dozzy - Dock 06. Object - Folk Five 07. Peter Van Hoesen - Hope in Honesterror 08. SP-X - Extract 09. Peter Van Hoesen - Defense Against the Self (Lucy Remix) 10. Peter Van Hoesen & Donato Dozzy - Elektra 11. Temporary - Blue Box 12. Sendai - Northeast 13. Object - Nocpy