Various Artists When I Was 14 Trip
The latest concept-compilation from Nina Kraviz’s Trip label is a suitably trippy mix of dreamlike, straight-from-the-red-room techno and raw, heavy-duty tracks. At only seven tracks long, it nevertheless manages to navigate a wide chunk of the shadowy terrain that the label calls home.
Icelandic producer Bjarki opens it up with Baepolar. Glacial strings drift over deep, murky eruptions of bass and light-handed breaks. As a label, Trip has made storytelling one of its central tenants, and Bjarki plays with this heavily – like characters moving through a book, nothing stays in one place too long.
Kraviz’s contribution, Don’t Mind the Wrong Keys, is similarly narrative driven. A tranquil organ with an improvisational feel warbles beneath a steely click rhythm, and splashes of synth and noise are scattered over the top. Like a beautiful dream that you feel might go bad at any moment, the track’s gorgeous warmth feels constantly under threat from outside forces.
As widely reported, Kraviz has also included one of Richard D James’s archived tracks. Recorded under his AFX moniker in the early 90s, it originally surfaced among one of user48736353001’s now-notorious Soundcloud dumps. Ironically for the IDM luminary, it’s probably the most ‘straightforward’ track on the record, consisting purely of quivering string patterns looped over a bloodied four-four thump. Other tracks include a haunting, minimal live cut from deceased Icelandic musician Biogen, and Barcode Population’s Temple Head, which can be adequately described as an absolute weapon.
Emotionally, WIW14 seems to explore the feelings that accompany personal growth, and the forces of outside control that conflict with it. It works, but it’s a shame it doesn’t go on longer. If we’re going on a trip this exciting, why not make it last?