Forget the iPad app or cross-media visual interpretation for a moment. “Enter Calico,” the compilation debut of new electronic label Clear Notice Recordings, begins with some damned fine music listening. In a world after shallow labels like “IDM,” this collection of independent artists represents the current generation about as well as any can. Meticulously-detailed sound designs stutter and shimmer through varied cinematic soundscapes, nodding at genres with only passing concern.
Like a well-curated variety show, something is bound to grab you somewhere.
But then, let’s talk about the videos. It’s nice to see a video album, though the quality there is a bit varied. (Several directors independently seemed to settle on the “guy wandering around looking bemused” theme, though not lacking for visual invention.)
But two videos are, quite simply, mind-blowingly good standouts, perhaps not coincidentally for two of the highlight tracks from the compilation. Videos for Tricil (John Jacobus) and stretta (Matthew Davidson) take their richly-sonorous music and place them in surreal new fantasies. The Franck Trebillac-directed “Calculus” for stretta and Franck Trebillac & Marc Broussely-directed “The Emancipation” for tricil each create, in digital video, curio boxes in which captured butterflies and dancers become frozen in time. It’s a bit creepy, beautifully delicate, and compelling.
It’s great to see these familiar artists alongside some new ones. If the label keeps up this level of quality, we’ve got some good times ahead.
You can listen to the full album streaming online – and really, without even one video or iPad app, this is enough to satisfy me.
Bonus: here’s a free download of Tricil’s track, plus a blog post from him talking about how this all came to be.