Tuesday 25 May 2021

Gone Swimming

I'm back on my usual again, this time with a post about some compilations I haven't talked about before which is surprising as you will soon see they are supremely up my alley. Adult Swim has a long history of supporting musicians both indie and otherwise as you've seen me post about many times before - they were ahead of the game when it came to campaigns like that, before the yearly 'Singles Program' that they run now there was a couple of collaborations with the Ghostly International label that resulted in a couple of compilations that at the time you could get for free. This was around 2008 as a free download on the Adult Swim site which is where I got my copy. The official links are dead now but there are mirrors - but Ghostly also has them archived on their Bandcamp too, albeit not for $0 like it was in '08. Still, it's a great little compilation, let's quote the Bandcamp page for a bit of background:
(...) a 20-track mix (curated by label founder Sam Valenti IV) of tracks from Ghostly's avant-pop mainstays like Matthew Dear, Michna, and School of Seven Bells, alongside kindred spirits like Milosh, FLYamSAM, and Mux Mool. Ghostly Swim's best tracks embody the label's trademark mix of playful darkness and irreverence - Deastro's lurching robot-rock anthem "Light Powered," The Chap's bizarro-world pop hit "Carlos Walter Wendy Stanley," Michna's slinky-smooth "Triple Chrome Dipped" - making them an ideal accompaniment to, say, pissing in your pants over Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law.
And really they couldn't have summed it up better. The whole compilation is suitably eclectic given the work of Adult Swim, where electro-industrial tracks like Kill Memory Crash's Hit + Run rub shoulders with out and out smooth as hell and drenched in talkbox funk-inspired tracks like Osborne's Wait A Minute. Much like the Singles Program that Adult Swim used to run, this is a great compilation if you're looking to get some variety injected into your collection - a real standout highlight is the pulsing house come techno number from The Reflecting Skin in Traffickers I could do an entire post on this comp but I'll curtail it for now.

By far and away the most standout tune on here though is one of the few official appearances of FLYamSAM, which as the name would imply is a collaboration between Flying Lotus and Samiyam. This is from around the Los Angeles era of FlyLo which is home to some of my favourites of his, and it really shows - The Offbeat could have easily come off one of the companion EPs for LA, while it has that slightly rough feel of FlyLo's sound of that era, the whole thing feels a lot more slick than some of the cuts from the album. That wobbly melody is sweet as hell to this day, I wasn't into FlyLo so much when I first grabbed this compilation but with hindsight it's not hard to see that the man had a real talent for production and was definitely one to watch. Not to discount the work that Samiyam also put in mind you, his influence is clear to hear as well - having produced one of my favourites from Los Angeles in RobertaFlack, the two have a shared sound philosophy that I love a whole lot.

But of course, part of the beauty of these comps is introducing artists you might have not seen otherwise, and I'd say that rings true for pretty much the rest of the tracklist here for me. Enter Mux Mool - their contribution to the compilation is also aesthetically on point when it comes to matching the general Adult Swim vibe, the cut up beat butchery of the opening on Night Court would be right at home on one of the network's commercial 'bumps' (which, coincidentally is also what FlyLo was doing with his early demos). It kinda fits into a niche subcategory within my library, this kind of jammed out hip hop stuff reminds me a lot of the likes of Gold Panda and Bibio, though the closest I think in terms of sound is what Pretty Lights was making around this time - Filling Up The City Skies carries a lot of the same style cues, though with more of a sample focused approach than here.

The downside to this is finding an artist and digging deeper only to find they didn't really do anything more - two examples of this on this compilation: Reflecting Skin as mentioned in the first paragraph and the subject of my next pick - Dark Party. Active stood out to me early on, as is so often the case with many artists I end up following, I like the style on show here and was interested to see what else they had on offer. As mentioned though, they haven't done anything under the Dark Party name since around 2010 so you can most likely consider the project defunct. But not every artist has to turn into a massive deep discography dive I suppose, given how many things I have on my wishlist I shouldn't complain! Still, if you like what you hear here, they do have one album under the name called Light Years that's in the same vein.

And that'll do it for now, this post was originally going to be one track from each of the three Ghostly Swim comps but that got a bit lost by the wayside! Always fuel for another post I suppose, the other compilations are a little different in terms of sound too, the second edition of Ghostly Swim didn't come out until 2014 so a lot of evolution and change both for the label and the electronic sphere happened in-between. Check out the rest of the comp if you've liked my selections here, it's a little more varied than my choices here would lead you to think.

And as always - Stay safe and enjoy the music.


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