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VA - PC Music Volume 1 (2015)

Artist: VA
Title Of Album: PC Music Volume 1
Year Of Release: 2015
Label: PC Music
Genre: Pop, Electronic
Quality: FLAC
Total Time: 29:46 min
Total Size: 219 MB

01. Hannah Diamond - Every Night
02. A.G. Cook - Beautiful
04. Danny L Harle - In My Dreams
05. Hannah Diamond - Attachment
06. Lipgloss Twins - Wannabe
07. Thy Slaughter - Bronze
08. A.G. Cook - Keri Baby feat. Hannah Diamond
09. GFOTY - Don't Wanna / Let's Do It
10. easyFun - Laplander

What are they trying to say, and how sincere is their message? These questions have often cropped up in responses to London-based label and collective PC Music. Plenty of music makes its way out into the world without ever having such questions asked of it. But from the start PC Music's members have made sound just a part of their toolkit. Presentation and persona have been wielded as readily as chords and melodies, inline with the art-school idea that pop isn't just a musical style, but a vessel for coded postures, statements and ideas.

But there's another side to PC Music too, one not concerned with concept or provocation, but simply devoted the craft of making pop songs. You could maybe call it the collective's "music school" side, given Danny L Harle's composition degree from Goldsmiths University, and founder A.G. Cook's tendency to make goofy jokes about maverick composer Conlon Nancarrow, or to sneak renaissance choral polyphony into his songs. (The breakdown of "Beautiful," if you're wondering). This approach revels in the sonic excesses of pop, and obsesses over the techniques used to achieve them. Cook has cited Scritti Politti's Cupid And Psyche '85 as one of his favourite albums, and that group's scrupulously glossy songs are an obvious reference point. The PC Music crowd talk about "forever"s and "Eternal"s; Scritti Politti's Green Gartside looked for an "Absolute." Both bring an element of critique with them on their journey into the eye of the pop storm. But mostly they're there to have fun.

PC Music Volume 1 feels like the work of technicians and devotees rather than saboteurs. There is often surprising complexity beneath the cutesy delivery of its girl-next-door singers, as in Hannah Diamond's "Every Night," which presents romance as a dizzying loop: "I like the way you know that I like how you look / And you like me too-I know you do..." Musically, PC Music tracks can read like vivid technical studies: Danny L Harle's "In My Dreams," for instance, gets interesting as its shiny synth chords begin to layer and arpeggiate, a careful exercise in prolonged gratification.

PC Music Volume 1, which is billed as the label's first "official" release and contains nine of its best tracks to date, can be roughly split in two. "Every Night" and "In My Dreams" belong to its more conventional side, in which a spectrum of genres from the last two decades are cobbled together into songs with verses, choruses and (often pretty addictive) hooks. For all their strange angles and squeaky sonorities, these songs satisfy in the way that pop has always satisfied, no more and no less. "Beautiful" and easyFun's "Laplander" are cheap thrills but profoundly gratifying ones, their chart-dance templates turbo-charged with playful detail. (Diamond's maudlin "Attachment" isn't quite as good, and Cook's "Keri Baby" has the kitschiness but lacks the giddy yearning).

The compilation's other side is strikingly different. GFOTY and Lipgloss Twins create a brilliant mess of half-melted voices and disjointed drums, as if they've rummaged under the hood of a pop song and ripped out a few random components. These tracks are ugly and illogical, but just as compelling as the others. Perhaps they're best thought of as yin and yang, two complimentary sides to an approach that's fascinated with the nuts and bolts of musical style, and whose fascination is infectious. Beyond the music, PC Music can be a frustrating entity-there's little to enjoy in their clunky attempts at corporate critique and cringe-inducing video work. But PC Music Volume 1 shows the collective from another, more favourable angle.

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