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V/A - Progress: The Trieste-Vladivostok EX.04 Line

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Artist: V/A

Album: Progress: The Trieste-Vladivostok EX.04 Line

Label: rx:tx

Review date: Sep. 11, 2005

In Leander Haußmann’s 1999 film Sonnenallee, the teen protagonists view the acquisition of foreign rock and popular music as something quite worth the travails and danger it sometimes involved. In the film, a Rolling Stones LP literally saves a life, a hyperbolic but symbolic representation of what rock ‘n’ roll meant to East Berlin’s youth during the communist rule. The experience wasn’t solely German, as popular culture – especially that which was imbued with political, social, or cultural commentary – was a feared and suppressed enemy of communist governments throughout Eastern Europe. The fall of communism signaled a chance for the arts to flourish in the region, and they have. But, just as it was once hard for Western music to get into communist countries, the music that’s made in the formerly communist territories rarely finds an easy route to Western exposure. The Slovenian label rx:tx has made it a priority to bring the electronic sounds of these countries to new audiences through a series of festivals and releases collected under the apt title of Progress.

This disc is rx:tx’s second compilation of Eastern European electronic, collecting contributions from artists from Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Russia, Serbia & Montenegro, Slovenia and the Ukraine. And while most of the sounds therein are beat-oriented, and fairly well-behaved by today’s standards, rx:tx has assembled a suitably broad mix of electronica.

Not surprisingly, Slovenian acts are in the majority, making up a third of the disc. The disc begins with a cool, detached air, but when Karaoke Mouse allow their kitschy samples to bleed through the beats, a more humorous tone takes over (and it’s unfortunately furthered on Territerrortorium’s take on comedic electro-rap).

Most of this compilation is solid at best, with Evgeniy Droomoff & Sound Meccano and Tigirics setting the bar. The problem is that there’s not much to distinguish these countries’ sounds from the rest of the world’s. In an era when high-profile American producers think nothing of sampling foreign music from every region of the planet, it’s become increasingly hard to find ways to imbue electronic music with a decided sense of cultural identity. That’s probably of little concern to the artists on Progress; what’s more important to them is simply being heard.

By Adam Strohm

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