Several years ago, I stumbled onto the nice little The Isle Of Wight EP by Fisk Industries (aka one Mat Ranson). The six tracks and just under a half-hour of music on that release reminded me a bit of classic Warp Records releases, and while it was far from groundbreaking, it had some excellent moments that were worth going back to.
It seems that Ranson has been pretty darn busy the past couple of years, because EPs And Rarities is a whopping 2CD collection of his work from the past couple years, released by Mush Records to introduce him to an audience outside Europe. This release not only includes the aforementioned EP, but his 77 And Rising EP release from last year along with a slew of digital-only EPs, compilation pieces, and a bunch of unreleased tracks from between the years of 2003 and 2006.
Essentially, if you've been listening to IDM music in the past couple years, you've heard music like this before. Ranson mixes analogue synths, sprays of programmed strings, and crunchy beats together into tracks that are alternately chunky, ponderous and playful, calling to mind everyone from Plaid to Boards Of Canada. Even on his short EPs (which is more apparent when two of them are placed side-by-side), his stylistic changes and sometimes lack of continuity are somewhat frustrating. On "Reflection" (from last years 77 And Rising EP) he mingles some harsh, filtered groans of analogue synth along with gorgeous pulsing programming for something that sounds fairly forward-moving, while only moments later (in "Close"), he reflects dated bass stabs and beat programming off sappy string synths in a predictable way.
These inconsistencies are the biggest problem with the double-disc of work, and it's amplified even more when all his compilation, one-off, and unreleased tracks find themselves hitting up against each other in repetitive and flat ways. As mentioned above, if you've listened to any IDM music in the past five (or more) years, you've heard stuff like (and likely better than) this before. In some cases a double CD can be too much of a good thing, but here it's simply too much period.