Various Artists, Apartment Six

[Apartment Records]

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For a country of just over 6,000,000 inhabitants, Ireland seems to punch well above its musical weight. It has several renowned labels, for starters: Feel Music, Lunar Disko, All City, and [NakedLunch]. While it hasn’t quite achieved the same status, Kenny Hanlon’s Apartment Records is as credible as any on the list. After all, Hanlon was a contributor at the late-and-great Infinite State Machine blog. Accordingly, his label has tended to trade in classically informed house, techno, and electro. Apartment Six, the label’s first compilation, doesn’t break the spell.

New Jackson kicks off the record in fine style, rubbing away the grime that obscured Tr One’s 2013 track “Viceroy-9c.” His interpretation is a more lucid one, where the track’s energetic bass and flurries of classic toms can better shine. It really lifts, however, when a snaking synth line enters in the final quarter, to helm an elated crescendo. The remaining three tracks are slightly more downbeat, aiming for melody over momentum. Slowburn’s “Riders of the Sea” uses its woozy chords just to tease, slipping them in-and-out of earshot but never quite offering an easy grasp. One can’t help but pursue them to the song’s end. The Superior Inferior shoots for the opposite with the unashamedly retro “A Bit Much Confusion.” Thankfully, though, there’s not a hackneyed Chicago bass line or Roland drum sound in its lead-driven duration. The track’s rigid snares and gaudy choirs instead pay homage to the Kraftwerk and Moroder era, in tasteful fashion. Last, and perhaps most interesting, is The Cyclist’s noise-swept sketch, “Crax.” Its warm chords and spare drums would have been pretty strong on their own, but the decay he plasters upon them adds a whole extra dimension, like a majestic, sci-fi city gone to ruin. This cut in particular highlights the breadth and adventurousness of Apartment, which, like its country of origin, continues to punch well above its weight.

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