Monday, 19 December 2011

Review: Fahrenheit Project (Part 1 & 2)

Fahrenheit Project Part 1Fahrenheit Project Part 2
On Thursday morning I woke up stupidly early after a night out, dehydrated and hung over to all fuck, and yet strangely unable to go back to sleep and put myself out of my misery. So I decided to spend the entire day in bed, slowly decomposing to the sounds of Ultimae Records' Fahrenheit Project compilation series. The Fahrenheit Project CDs are examples of something you only really see in the psy-music world: compilations comprised entirely of specially recorded, exclusive tracks that will never be released anywhere else. This kind of thing happens very occasionally in other genres - you often get exclusive tracks featured on compilations, but very rarely every track. In psy, this is one of the most common methods for putting music out there.

The result is pretty frustrating - go on Beatport and you'll find thousands of compilations entitled Goa Anthems Volume 57, featuring the occasional brilliant tracks amidst hordes of awful full-on stupidity. Slightly more promising are the downtempo compilations, which are a little less common and thus usually have a bit more effort put into them. They're often mixed and will feature reputable names such as Vibrasphere and Sundial Aeon, so the general quality is higher.

Ultimae Records are not your typical psy-trance/psy-chill label, anyway. In fact, if I may stray into unreserved hyperbole, they are probably my favourite label in the whole world, ever. And I mean that. Unlike most labels, especially in this digital age of web labels who seem to have confused a release schedule with the Dresden bombings, they only release four or five albums a year. They have an extremely recognisable core sound ("panoramic music for panoramic people") cultured by a reliable stable of artists, and so just about everything they release is extremely high quality. Not only that, but all their releases come in gorgeous digipack cases with booklets of beautiful photography, and their orders come with postcards, sticks of incense and hand written Thank You notes. This, people, is how you run a record label.

So when Ultimae put out a psy-chill compilation comprised of exclusive tracks, you know you're not getting any old shit. The Fahrenheit Project has been going since the label's inception back in 2001, and is their flagship compilation series. And so it's pretty fucking good. The first Fahrenheit is now ten years old, and so is understandably showing its age a little bit now. The tracks are pretty good, but they include more psy-chill clich├ęs than the label's later output, when it really developed its own sound. Fahrenheit 2 is amazing, though. It starts out vast and ambient and then moves through some absolutely beautiful flowing pieces by Vibrasphere, Khetzal and Nuclear Ramjet that I can only describe as "ambient trance" - ultra-slow and definitely not for the dancefloor, but still rhythmic and feature endless cascading melodies. Towards the end it becomes totally ambient and spacey again. It's mixed by label manager Vincent Villius, AKA Aes Dana, and like most of the Ultimae compilations the tracks fit together so perfectly it feels like the various contributors knew what the gameplan was when they set out to make their tracks. You'd struggle to name an artist album that sounds more cohesive.

When I queued up the whole series in Spotify, I expected a lot of pretty background ambient music to hopefully fall asleep to. After Fahrenheit 2 finished, I had to stop the playlist because I was wide awake again. The music was too captivating and interesting for me to drift off. This is genuinely one of the best compilations I've ever heard - it goes right up there into my Top 5, which is pretty good company to be keeping. I might have to purchase the physical copy of this one, because it's one of those records so good you want the real thing sitting on your shelf. Especially when the physical copy is as beautifully crafted as the Ultimae CDs. I'm just hoping the later Fahrenheit Projects are nearly this good. You can buy the entire series on their website for 72 Euros, and you wouldn't believe how tempted I am.

Genre: Psy-chill
Stupid Arbitrary Rating: Fahrenheit 1 - 7/10 | Fahrenheit 2 - 9/10

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